Safer Times: The Good Day's Work Blog

Safety-Compliance Update: What's New in Farm Safety for 2015

Posted by Good Day's Work on Sep 3, 2015
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As the dedicated safety leader for your farm, you probably know OSHA's core safety-compliance standards quite thoroughly. As you understand all too well, knowing the core farm-safety standards is an ongoing—never-ending, actually—practice, and it is essential that you and your fellow safety-team members monitor and adhere to OSHA's most current regulations specific to agriculture. It is better to keep up with OSHA training requirements and overall safety standards than to have to meet an OSHA safety inspector face-to-face after an incident.

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The safety-director role for an agricultural facility might still seem like a new and strange concept to farm owners whose agricultural business previously stayed in the family from one generation to the next.  It was easy and natural to pass along procedures for safe operations to a small group of close-knit people who grew up learning the dangers of farming first-hand. However, farming at your operation’s expanding size and adjusting for a larger workforce makes it crucial for ownership and safety directors to work together.  Coordinating your efforts will prevent injuries, but also help you keep up with the never-ending regulatory updates that OSHA implements to help make the ag industry safer.

Since 1971, OSHA has played a large role in reducing workplace fatalities by 62 percent and workplace injuries and illnesses by 40 percent. OSHA continues to broaden its scope, focusing on industries that continue to report significant workplace injuries. OSHA notes that agriculture ranks among the most dangerous industries, making it imperative that farm owners comply with regulations. Your farm's owner and managers count on you to perform all the necessary research to keep up with OSHA's regulations and find ways to pass this information to your employees in meaningful ways.  Most importantly, they count on you to foster an atmosphere of an overall safety culture that organically enhances and reinforces safety compliance.

What's New in Farm Safety for 2015?

As 2015 moves forward, you are probably searching for new ideas and strategies to help your farm's owners, managers and employees work together to make your agricultural facility safer for everyone, keeping your DART rates low, your productivity on track and your farm's profits high.

One way for farm staff to stay safe is to monitor the use of electricity in various farm functions; sometimes in situations that might not seem obvious, such as during irrigation processes. Earlier this year, OSHA published a feature on this critical focus in OSHA FATALFacts,  called "Farmworker Electrocution," which detailed the event, noting that the operation involved corn detasseling and that the irrigation system was not effectively grounded when lightning struck.

While not an official new regulation, this incident shows OSHA's commitment to exploring various real-world situations that a strong and vibrant safety culture and overall safety compliance might help prevent. With this incident in mind, try to work toward the following:

  • Train staff about possible electrical hazards associated with irrigation processes.
  • Teach proper safety precautions when working with electrical systems and irrigation systems.
  • Take irrigation systems out of areas where workers are present.
  • Hire qualified, licensed and bonded electricians for all electrical work.

Such incidents are extremely traumatic for the farm workers and their families and difficult for the farm to overcome, but sharing these types of stories during safety meetings and training sessions can help you continue to build your own safety culture, where you can take these unfortunate experiences and use them to help your team stay safe and in safety compliance to avoid similar situations.

Good Day's Work


Topics: agriculture

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