Do you know where to start with your farm safety plan? Knowing the hazards on your farm is the first step towards applying the best safety controls. Blair Takahashi, farm safety specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, explains that hazard assessment helps everyone focus their efforts on the right areas.
Being aware of the hazards is important for daily farm tasks. “Hazard assessment information is also used in many safety planning aspects like identifying training needs, site inspections, emergency response plans and more,” says Takahashi. “Making the time to fully assess your unique hazards and concerns sets a strong foundation for making good safety decisions.”
It can feel overwhelming to look out at your farm and ask how you are going to identify every single hazard out there. “Hazard assessment can start as a conversation. Ask your workers what they have seen, or hand them a checklist and see if you all spot the same concerns,” suggests Takahashi. “Including your workers and family in the hazard assessment process also demonstrates how important and valued they are to you and your operation.”
Deciding on the best safety controls is the crucial next step to hazard assessment. “Once you’ve spotted a hazard you will need to ask yourself how you want to eliminate the issue and make it safer,” adds Takahashi while referencing the hierarchy of controls.
Ideally, hazards should be eliminated. Are workers slipping in an icy entrance way? Eliminate the ice. If the ice cannot be removed, the next option could be to consider why ice is forming in the door way. You could then apply grit for traction, ask workers to use an alternate entrance, or post warning signs.
Takahashi assures, “Not all safety controls are onerous or expensive. Sometimes it is rethinking how a job is done. Walking around your equipment instead of stepping over the PTO shaft, even when it is not engaged, might add up to an extra ten minutes in your day. Routinely short-cutting could lead to complacency, jeopardizing your safety, and the safety of others.”
Source : Alberta Ag and Forestry