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Working safe for others

Cheryl DeCooman for Progressive Dairy Published on 27 November 2019

With the holiday season right around the corner, there are a million things that need to be done. You may still be finishing things up from the summer growing season, preparing for the cold Canadian winter ahead and, on top of all this, attending family holiday events can feel like a full-time job in itself.

Oftentimes, when we get this busy, safety is exchanged for speed and hastiness. This is when you are more likely to get hurt on the job. One estimate found that in 97% of workplace injury cases, the injured person did not see the hazard and failed to control it.

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Of course, bad things only happen to other people, right? It is easy to think of a neighbor who severely cut their hand when the knife slipped out while they were hoof trimming and needed 15 stitches. Or your child’s friend who fell off a ladder and broke their leg. I am sure these people thought farm injuries only happened to others – until it happened to them.

Many times, we think, “I have done this job a million times. I have always done it like this. My dad taught me how to do it this way, and no one has ever got hurt.” Or maybe you think if you get hurt, you will be able to recover quickly, and it is better if it happens to you than someone else. In reality, your safety is just as important as others’ safety. Your absence from the lives of the people you love deeply impacts them.

Consequences of a farm workplace injury go beyond being a financial burden. In a family farming operation, everyone is affected. If you broke your arm, who would help your son practice catch for baseball tryouts in the spring? If you had a broken leg, you would not be able to climb into a tractor.

Why we work safely for others

  • To set a good example: As someone who has been in human resources and health and safety for many years, I cannot count the amount of times people joke about not working safely. Or the infamous, “Well, I did that, and nothing bad happened to me.” Whether you own your own dairy operation, you are a manager or an employee, you can set a good example of safety to others. By making safety a priority, you show to others that it is important to you and they should make it a priority for themselves.

  • To create a safe environment on the farm for everyone: Accidents happen, but there are many things that can be put in place to minimize the risk. By creating and being involved in a safe work environment, all team members can have confidence that they are going to be able to go home each night healthy and able-bodied. Studies show a healthy, safe work environment increases employee satisfaction.

  • To be there for others: Farming is more than a job; it is a way of life. Working in the agriculture industry gives us the opportunity to provide for our families. Whether it is the ability to watch our kids play hockey, or join the local 4-H club, we are able to do this because of our jobs. Now imagine you can no longer do the job you love because of a workplace accident; how would that impact not only your life but your family’s life? If you lost your eyesight from a chemical being splashed into your eyes, who would drive your daughter to skating practice?

For me, I work safe so I can be part of my granddaughter Zoey’s life in my fullest capacity and watch her grow up.

Do not wait until it is too late to think about safety. Take the extra five seconds to consider your actions; it could save your arm, leg or even your life. Build safety into daily operations around the farm. Train employees and colleagues on how to do a job properly and safely. By being proactive and making safety a priority on the farm, it ensures you are working safely for others and, most importantly, yourself.  end mark

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Cheryl DeCooman, CHRL, can also be reached at (519) 532-2508 on Twitter and Instagram.

Cheryl DeCooman
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