By: Lindsay Reames, Director of Sustainability & External Relations
Harvest time is exciting and hectic. It puts extra pressure on our normal routines. As the daylight hours shorten, we find ourselves working into the night to finish a field or get in one last run. We know the dangers of farming and how quickly injuries can occur. During this busy time, we need to remember that farm safety starts with us. Every day we must be alert and take care of ourselves, our employees and our families in the field.
National Farm Safety week is a good time to assess your operation’s farm safety plan. Maryland & Virginia worked with other cooperatives and industry experts to develop a safety self-assessment for farms to complete. The self-assessment is included in the 2019 FARM Workforce Development Safety Manual.
This manual is a reference guide for farmers to use in developing farm safety programs. The self-assessment tool helps you identify what areas need improvement and what areas you are well prepared for in case of an on-farm accident. Having a safety plan in place can make the difference in saving a life or mitigating a bad situation.
The first step in developing a farm safety plan is to discuss farm safety with family and staff. Everyone needs to understand the farm safety plan and what their individual role is during an emergency. The FARM Workforce Development Safety Manual can help you develop your farm safety plan. The resource materials are available in both English and in Spanish to help you communicate safety expectations to your staff.
This harvest season, take the opportunity to talk to your family and staff about what to do if there is an accident and share how you will communicate out in the field. Give yourself time for frequent breaks and make sure you are eating and drinking enough. Short cuts and distractions are often the culprits behind accidents. Be particularly mindful of older machinery that does not have safety mechanisms. Taking care of yourselves and your workers is an integral part of your farming operation.
Please do not hesitate to contact your field representatives for support or to answer any questions you have. We want to give you the tools and resources to keep you, your employees and families safe this harvest season.