ATHENS, Pa. — Agri-Services Agency is an insurance company dedicated to protecting farms and agri-businesses across the country. For decades, ASA has been offering high quality, cost-competitive insurance solutions to the agriculture industry; including property, liability, health and benefits, workers’ compensation and other insurance options.
An important part of the program includes safety training and on-site loss control audits designed to improve the safety culture of a business and keep workers safe. Other important aspects of improved safety, beyond healthier workers, can be lower costs, better morale and improved employee retention.
Safety training and loss control can be complicated. Agri-Services Agency’s team of specialists — learn more about them below — help break down a loss control visit and explain how audits help customers create a safer workplace:
Q: How are initial loss control visits scheduled and how often do they take place?
A: The first loss control visit can be scheduled when a potential new customer is introduced to ASA. Future visits, once the farm or business becomes a customer, are typically based on the size and type of operation and the number of employees or if a critical need is identified. Even if the initial visit doesn’t result in the prospect becoming a customer, we’ll share our findings with the farm or businesses management team so they’re aware of important improvements that can be made.
Q: What does a loss control visit look like?
A: Loss control visits can be scheduled with a few different members of the business. We’ll schedule time with an owner, safety or production manager, or the human resources manager. We’ll do a walk-through of the farm or business looking for hazards like unguarded machinery, trip and fall hazards, loose or frayed wiring, and more. We’ll also take notice of employees and make sure they are using safe work practices. As we tour the facility, we take notes and pictures to document what needs to be corrected and what’s being done right. Typically, we’ll set appointments for 90 minutes. They don’t always take that long, but we want to be sure we have enough time, especially if there are a lot of questions.
Q: What is the most important part of a safety program?
A: Our primary goal is the safety of the workers at the operations we visit. The key to any safety and loss control program are mitigation and minimization of risk. Implementing an effective workplace safety program is the first step to reducing injuries for workers while improving productivity and reducing costs.
Q: Why are safety audits important?
A: Routine and regular audits are a critical part of the ASA safety program. With every visit, we want management and employees to understand the need for an effective safety program and assist them in reaching this goal. We want to point out areas of concern and set them up to address these issues – on their own – every day. Regular visits allow us to help the management team ensure that the safety culture they’ve embraced is still in place.
Q: Aren’t all workplaces different? How do you build a plan for each operation?
A: Yes, it’s essential to tailor the approach to the workplace. We research each business before we visit to determine the risk factors that are present in each industry and specific location, so your risk management program can specifically address those issues. We’re careful to consider environmental, workplace and activity-specific risks.
Q: What happens with the information you collect?
A: We review the information with the farm or businesses management team and make sure they understand our findings. We’ll discuss improvements that can be made and explain how a safer workplace not only benefits the employees, but the business too. We also share the information with our underwriting team, the more we know about an operation the easier it is to tailor a cost effective insurance program to meet the needs of our customers.
Q: The Safe Farm program is new; how did it get started?
A: We’ve always recognized the need for increased safety training, especially on our dairy farms. The Safe Farm program was developed to meet that need. In many cases, new hires are coming to farms for the first time, and they’re around big and unpredictable animals and dangerous equipment. Teaching and reminding all employees about safety and best practices is good for the employees and the business. So far, we’ve trained about 1,500 workers in 10 states. In the coming months, we’re planning to expand the reach of our program and train even more workers.
Here is ASA’s loss control team:
After studying environmental health and safety at R.I.T.’s OSHA Education Center Ashely Nadeau began her career managing the safety department for an upstate New York lumber company. Recently making the move into insurance joining ASA as a loss control consultant, Ashely earned her Agri-business and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) designation and is an OSHA Outreach Trainer, she is also licensed in property and casualty insurance.
Joe Buschor was raised on his family’s dairy farm and now brings his expertise to ASA as a Farm Safety Specialist administering their dairy worker safety program. Joe has a degree from Utica College where he focused on foreign language studies and risk management. Speaking both English and Spanish fluently helps Joe provide effective safety education to farm employees. Joe’s education and experience includes OSHA training, insurance licenses, AFIS designation and FARM certification and a background in Workers’ comp.
Juan Gonzalez joined ASA in 2020 as a loss control consultant, he has been in the safety business for 14 years spending time working in the oil and gas, chemical and fertilizer industries before moving into agriculture. In addition to speaking Spanish and English fluently, Juan has completed several certifications including Construction Health and Safety Technician, AFIS and is an OSHA Outreach Trainer.
Dan Lee has been in the safety field for over 40 years, ever since graduating from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in industrial safety. After working on the manufacturing side for nearly a decade, Dan moved into insurance as a loss control consultant where he has spent much of his career in ag safety. Dan sits on two Boards; he is a Director for AgriSafe Network and is a member of the University of Nebraska Feedyard Safety Advisory Board. Dan grew up on his family’s beef farm and still operates a small cow and calf operation today.
Worker safety is our highest priority at ASA. We’ll continue to develop new and innovative programs to help our customers keep their employees safe. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Agri-Services Agency.
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