Every farm needs an ag-safety program that complies with OSHA regulations, and your boss selected you to lead the project. You are definitely up for this new challenge. Although you know how important safety and health are to the longevity and success of the farm, you see just one, small problem—you don’t have time to become an OSHA expert.
Luckily, you can get started without knowing anything about OSHA rules and regulations. Just use these five steps as a guide.1. Build your safety team
Right now, only you and your boss know that the farm will soon have an official safety and health program that everyone will need to follow. Share the news across the operation, and help both farm managers and employees see “what’s in it for them.” Managing expectations and generating acceptance at every level will help ensure your program’s effectiveness.2. Identify and document hazards
While you’re building acceptance, you can also start digging into plan development. First, determine where the current and potential safety hazards exist on the farm. Walk through each area, and take thorough notes (OSHA loves documentation and reporting, so record everything). Interview employees, and learn where they see safety concerns in their daily tasks. After completing the first inspection, set a date to do another one within the same year. They should become part of your routine.3. Develop a plan of action
You can now use the information from your hazard assessment to create a plan for managing risks and preventing accidents. Try to completely eliminate each hazard first. If you can’t get rid of it, minimize it as much as possible by limiting employee exposure, increasing training and providing personal-protection equipment (e.g., hard hats, dust masks, etc.). Ask managers and employees for their feedback on your ideas as well.4. Prepare and educate your team
With a comprehensive ag-safety plan finalized, you’re ready to start implementation. Share your plan, and make it easily accessible to everyone on the farm. Schedule training sessions and refresher classes to ensure employees know how to follow the new approaches to farm safety.5. Commit to data collection and reporting
Tracking and recording all of your safety-related activities and incidents will help as you move toward OSHA compliance. Frequently reviewing your records will also allow you to notice trends and identify areas where change is needed.
These five steps can guide you through the ag-safety program development process. To learn even more about this approach and access checklists for each step, download The Beginner’s Guide to Running a Farm-Safety Program, a free ebook from Good Day’s Work.