I caught up with a friend last week who owned a large dairy farm and now works for a farm co-op in his “retirement.” When I mentioned ag-safety programs and OSHA compliance, he quickly rolled his eyes and sarcastically said, “Ugh,” with a chuckle.
As a farm or agribusiness owner, you might have a similar reaction—just one more thing to put on your priority list and squeeze into your budget. But, launching an ag-safety program at your operation is a sound financial investment. The profitability and employee productivity returns are practically guaranteed. It just might be one situation where everyone involved wins—you, your employees and, ultimately, the agriculture industry.
For every dollar you invest in an OSHA-compliant safety program, you can save between $4 and $6, according to the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America. Workers’ compensation and medical costs decline, and you avoid potential OSHA fines. You will have a better sense of how much an ag safety program can save your operation by estimating the cost of various injuries and illnesses using OSHA’s Safety Pays Calculator.
When they understand they work in a safe and secure operation, and they recognize you care about their well-being, your employees' morale improves and productivity increases. Employees will complete OSHA training on specific aspects of their job, such as wearing the proper safety equipment or checking for rollover protection systems (ROPS) on the equipment they operate. Faulty or nonexistent ROPS can result in tractor overturns, which cost an operation about $1 million on average.
As you may know, agriculture has the highest rate of occupational deaths across all industries, and OSHA’s paying more attention to agricultural operations. In achieving a greater good by bringing that rate down, your implementation of an OSHA-compliant safety program sets a great example for your industry partners and neighbors. In time, working with OSHA, you and other agribusiness owners can take the lead on establishing a higher level of peer-influenced safety in the ag industry and in playing a key role in OSHA’s almost-certain development of ag-specific regulatory standards.
You make many tough financial decisions for your farm operation, but investing in ag safety is an easy one. Download "Is Your Farm Ready for an OSHA Inspection?", a free ebook from Good Day’s Work, to learn more about starting your safety program today.