The importance of a farm employee safety manual

By Aaron Bickle, CEO, Bickle Farm Solutions

Safety is a topic every farmer can get behind.

Aaron Bickle

As your most critical resource, employees need to be safeguarded through training, provision of appropriate work surroundings and procedures that foster protection of health and safety. Like most farmers, you want to do everything possible to prevent workplace accidents because you value your employees not only as employees, but also as human beings critical to the success of their families, the local community, 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 contacting your farm risk advisor or your farm insurance agent to help develop a manual that is specific to your operation. Your operation does things your way, which could be different than the farm your newest employee came from. Not only does a safety manual put everyone on the same page, but it also shows that you’re firmly committed to the safety of your employees and that your organization will do everything possible to prevent workplace accidents. 

Let’s run through some basic topics and sections that every farm safety manual should include:

• Commitment to safety

• Employee safety responsibilities 

• Tractor/combine road safety precautions

• Pesticide storage, transport and disposal

Commitment to safety

Use this section to outline the importance of safety to your organization. Accident prevention is good business and promotes better working conditions for everyone. Make sure your manual points out the following:

• The responsibility of management 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 primary responsibility of your company employees is to perform their duties in a safe manner to prevent injury to themselves and others. It’s important to outline the specific responsibilities of your employees when it comes to playing their part in safety. 

For example: 

• As a condition of employment, employees must become familiar with, observe, and obey rules and established policies for health and safety 

• Additionally, employees must learn the approved safe practices and procedures that apply to their work

• Before beginning special work or new assignments, an employee should review applicable and appropriate safety rules

• Employee conduct rules

• Drug and alcohol policy 

• How to report an injury.

Tractor/combine road safety precautions

Signage recommendations:

• Place a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem on the rear of the tractor so that automobiles can clearly see it as they approach.

• If workers are towing a trailer or other equipment that blocks the SMV sign, they should place an additional emblem on the towed equipment.

Lighting tips:

• Make sure that tractors have two forward-facing headlights and a red tail light that is constantly illuminated 

• Any equipment that is towed should have two rear-mounted red reflectors

• If workers are operating tractors on public roads, they must be equipped with hazard lights 

• These lights should always be on when the vehicle is on the road.

Traffic rules:

• Use a turn or hand signal when changing lanes, turning, pulling onto the road, or stopping 

• Drivers should signal at least 100 feet before turning or stopping to alert motorists

• When traveling on a single-lane or two-lane road that intersects with 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 as opposed to during the turn

• Do not park a tractor closer than 50 feet from a railroad crossing.

Pesticide storage, transport and disposal 

• Store chemicals in a well-ventilated, well-lit area with a locked entrance. Check SDSs regarding the proper storage procedures for each chemical

• Keep incompatible chemicals away from one another

• Be mindful that some chemicals contain solvents that can escape into the air and release harmful vapors unless their containers are properly sealed

• Store chemicals only in their original manufactured containers with the original labels. If a chemical’s label should come off, replace it immediately

• Do not transport chemicals near food, water, or incompatible chemicals

• Secure chemicals in their proper containers on the vehicle before proceeding so they cannot move, fall, or break

• Keep a detailed record of the chemicals you are transporting.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be, your farm safety manual should be simple and straight forward with a “no nonsense” approach. The above are examples of some of the topics you would want to include in your farm employee safety manual. It boils down to what’s my responsibility, what’s my employee’s responsibility, let’s be consistent, and let’s focus on doing our work safely. 

Bickle Farm Solutions is an ag risk management firm specializing in farm and crop insurance as well as legacy/financial planning for medium to large grain, animal confinement, and dairy operations across the state of Ohio. 

Check Also

Will corn get to $7.50?

By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC The corn market shook off bearish news and …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.