By Aaron Bickle, CEO, Bickle Farm Solutions
Safety is something every farmer can care about.
As your most critical resource, employees must be protected through training, the provision of an appropriate work environment, and procedures that promote health and safety protection. Like most farmers, you want to do everything possible to prevent workplace injuries because you value your employees not only as employees, but also as human beings essential to the success of their families, the community local and your operation.
But, if you’re like most farmers or other small businesses, it’s hard to put safety on paper, it’s hard to know exactly where to start, and it’s hard to find the time. That’s why we recommend that you contact your agricultural risk advisor or agricultural insurance agent to help you develop a manual specific to your operation. Your operation does things your way, which may be different from the farm your new employee is from. Not only does a safety manual get everyone on the same page, it also shows that you are strongly committed to the safety of your employees and that your organization will do everything possible to prevent workplace accidents.
Let’s go over some basic topics and sections that any farm safety manual should include:
• Commitment to safety
• Employee Safety Responsibilities
• Tractor/Combine Road Safety Precautions
• Storage, transport and disposal of pesticides
Commitment to Safety
Use this section to highlight the importance of security to your organization. Preventing accidents is good business and promotes better working conditions for everyone. Make sure your manual says the following:
• Management’s responsibility to provide the safest possible workplace
• Employees are responsible for following safe work practices and company rules
• The safety program applies to all employees and persons affected or associated in any way by the scope of the farm operation.
Employee Safety Responsibilities
The main responsibility of your company’s employees is to perform their tasks in a safe manner in order to avoid injury to themselves and others. It is important to define the specific responsibilities of your employees when it comes to fulfilling their role in security.
• As a condition of employment, employees must familiarize themselves with, observe and obey established health and safety rules and policies.
• In addition, employees must learn the approved safety practices and procedures that apply to their job
• Before starting special work or new assignments, an employee should review the applicable and appropriate safety rules
• Rules of conduct for employees
• Drug and Alcohol Policy
• How to report an injury.
Tractor/Combine Harvester Road Safety Precautions
• Place a slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem on the rear of the tractor so cars can clearly see it as they approach.
• If workers tow a trailer or other equipment that blocks the VMS sign, they must affix an additional emblem to the towed equipment.
• Ensure tractors are equipped with two forward-facing headlights and a constantly lit red taillight
• All towed equipment must have two rear mounted red reflectors
• If workers drive tractors on public roads, they must be equipped with hazard warning lights
• These lights should always be on when the vehicle is on the road.
• Use a turn signal or hand signal when changing lanes, turning, entering the road or stopping
• Drivers must signal at least 100 feet before turning or stopping to alert motorists
• When traveling on a single-lane or two-lane road that intersects a multi-lane road, drivers must yield to others traveling on the multi-lane road
• Traffic on unpaved roads must yield to motorists on paved roads
• Apply the brakes before making a turn rather than during the turn
• Do not park a tractor within 50 feet of a railroad crossing.
Storage, transport and disposal of pesticides
• Store chemicals in a well-ventilated, well-lit area with a locked entrance. Check MSDS for proper storage procedures for each chemical
• Keep incompatible chemicals away from each other
• Remember that some chemicals contain solvents which can escape into the air and release harmful fumes unless their containers are properly sealed.
• Store chemicals only in their original containers manufactured with the original labels. If a chemical label should come off, replace it immediately
• Do not transport chemicals near food, water or incompatible chemicals
• Secure chemicals in their appropriate containers on the vehicle before proceeding so they cannot move, fall or break
• Keep a detailed record of the chemicals you transport.
Don’t make things more complicated than necessary, your farm safety manual should be simple and straightforward with a “no frills” approach. The examples above are examples of some of the topics you might want to include in your agricultural worker safety manual. It comes down to my responsibility, my employee’s responsibility, let’s be consistent and focus on the safety of our job.
Bickle Farm Solutions is an agricultural risk management firm specializing in agricultural and crop insurance as well as legacy/financial planning for medium to large grain operations, animal containment and dairy operations in the state of Ohio.