CLOUD, Minn. — In the spring,many producers are pretty busy. They put in long hours in the tractor or bringing cows up from the barn to the milking parlor (often both). The essential activities mentioned above inherently have risk. In this article, I will be discussing ways to build and maintain an on-farm culture of safety on dairies.
On the dairy I worked on, we held a farm meeting on Monday mornings after the first milking and before chores. My employer always shared one safety tip at the very beginning of the meeting. Even though I was in my mid-20’s and indestructible, about a decade later, I remember those discussions. I remember that they valued my safety and my future. That routine, 15-minute discussion demonstrated that safety was a priority to my boss on their farm and should be my priority as well.
One of the first steps toward building a culture of farm safety is to recruit employees who value their own, your, and their co-worker’s safety. I encourage you to try to hire individuals who value safe decisions. Emphasize how important safety is to you and your operation throughout the hiring process. A way you could do this is by asking questions about previous safety training as part of your stock interview questions and offer additional training throughout the year to reinforce mindful and safe decision-making. Options that may be appropriate can include online or in-person, such as CPR, working around grain bins, or even low-stress livestock handling techniques. Maybe a pizza party or a summer BBQ can be the group’s goal to reward their hard work and encourage those quality employees to continue to stay on your team.
Employees tend to model behavior based upon on-farm culture and consequently their supervisor. Every interaction you have with your family and employees is an opportunity to model safe choices and reinforce your safety expectations as a priority during any task. Setting an example will show everyone on your farm what the expectations are and prove that you are no exception to those expectations.
The information for this article was compiled from University of Minnesota Extension, “Creating a culture of safety on your farm”, linked here (https://extension.umn.edu/farm-safety/create-culture-safety-your-farm ). Residents of Stearns, Benton, and Morrison counties can direct questions to either my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call my desk phone at (320) 255-6169 x 3.
— Dana Adams, University of Minnesota Extension
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