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Safety Culture on the Farm


Neil Armer


Farmers are a different breed of worker—they do what has to be done, when it needs to be done. There is no punching the time clock and going off duty when the cows have to be milked and animals need to be fed. I think this is a commendable work ethic that we need more of in the world today, but it can also come at heavy cost. Over the past few years, I’ve read way too many news articles about fatalities and serious incidents involving farmers. From grain entrapment to being overcome by toxic gases in manure pits, all these share a common thread; none of them were “freak accidents” and all were easily preventable.

So, what is our motivation for working safely? Because we have rules we have to follow? While that may work when it’s convenient, is it going to stop you when push-comes-to-shove and you think “it has to get done”? Probably not, and that’s where a positive safety culture comes into play. I think a positive safety culture can best be described as having beliefs and values that influence proactive decisions to work safely. A good starting point to build this on the farm can be:

know your hazards on the farmKnow your Hazards

“What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em” we’ve all heard it and have probably all said it at one time or another. Well, the truth is it can hurt you—and on the farm, it might kill you! Learn and understand the hazards on your farm, ask questions and find answers.  

communicate safety on the farmCommunication is Key

Share your knowledge with others who have less experience and help them not only stay safe but learn what safety really means. Have regular safety meetings and keep constant open dialogue, talk to your workers/family about the hazards they may face around the farm and what preventative measures should be used to protect themselves.

lead by example on the farmLead by Example

This is something I can’t stress enough, actions speak louder than words!  What might seem like a quick low risk shortcut can easily undo any progress to the culture you are trying to build. Someone is always watching and if you expect them to make safe choices you have to lead by example.

Know your Motivation

know your safety motivation on the farmThis is probably the biggest influencer to having a positive safety culture. I can’t tell you what your motivation is, or what it should be. That is something you need find out for yourself.  What I can tell you is, at the end of the day, someone wants you to come back home alive and uninjured.  

Another common thread in all those articles I read was that the incident details were a small part of the articles. Most of the article content was about the lives the victims had lived and the devastated families and friends they left behind. As we contemplate our motivation, those we love should help us choose a safe course.

Ultimately safety is a choice that you make, not something that’s legislated for you to follow. I hope you will make a conscious decision to choose safety as a personal value, one you share with others to make this world a better, safer place.


Topics: Farm Safety


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