Prep Week: Field trips

Planning isn’t all about documentation… it also means field trips. Not to a literal field quite yet, but to your shed, shop or garage. One of the key things in our safety plan is to physically check each work area, vehicle and piece of equipment for:

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  • Fire extinguishers - charged correctly, not expired and the right type and location for each piece of equipment

  • First aid kit - fully stocked with supplies

  • Emergency procedures folder - includes field locations (legal and emergency sign blue numbers for those with yard sites), directions from various local towns (our fields supported by emergency services from a number of different towns) and an outline of the information you need when calling 911 in an emergency

    Remember, in an emergency you might forget things you would normally know! Although it is possible to store this information electronically on your phone, we believe in redundancy and so we have a physical copy in each vehicle or piece of equipment.

Checking equipment and updating emergency procedures folders can be a time consuming process, which is one of the reasons to get started now! If you updated your field list earlier this week then you already have current field information for your emergency procedures folders.

After we complete these checks we post the information, as a way to keep ourselves accountable and transparent. It also reminds us to take note of exactly where these items are in each piece of equipment or vehicle.

So, pick a nice sunny winter day and organize your safety checklist, and create a shopping list if you need to! Message us with your system of keeping track of safety equipment in your fleet of vehicles and equipment.

Safely Raising the next 2%

In follow up to our recent post about keeping kids safe while involving them in farm life, we wanted to provide an illustration of what this means in practice.  

Recently you may have noticed Karen’s Instagram post about picking apples from a tractor bucket at our parents yard.  Here are some of the factors that were considered before any apples were picked:

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  • Experience level of the tractor operator and familiarity with the specific piece of equipment

  • Supervision (both proximity - Karen was also in the bucket - and number of supervisors)

  • Age and abilities of children (this was the first year)

  • Alternative ways to accomplish the job (ladder)

  • Length of time required to complete the task

  • Ease of children leaving the task before it is complete

  • Interest and engagement in the task

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Each day, farmers and farm extenders take numerous factors into account as they decide when and how to involve their children in farm-related activities.  This is a situation by situation analysis, because even for the same task there are variables that change from day to day. Of course, each child is also unique, so it is important to consider both the age and experience/exposure of the individual children.  To reiterate, it is always the adult’s responsibility to assess the situation and make a safe plan.

When we approach our safety plan from the perspective of wanting to involve our children and young people, we can safely teach the next generation the skills and the attitudes of farm life.  We can engage in authentic conversations about when and how to teach our kids the lessons of farming.

Feel free to comment below and share ideas of how you have modified farm tasks to involve your kids.

Throwback Thursday - Farm Safety Style

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I pulled out my old print copy of The Farm Safety Audit: A Management Tool for Farmers (2003).  Although this is not a new publication, the Principles of Accident Prevention in Production Agriculture* are just as true today as they were fifteen years ago.

1.       Accidents have causes (some of) which are preventable and controllable.

2.       There is usually more than one approach to preventing an accident.

3.       Risk is always present in life.

4.       To be human is to err.

5.       Human perceptions of risk are not very accurate.

6.       Human behavior can be changed.

7.       Farm safety and health is the responsibility of the farm manager (as well as each farm worker).

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We must keep these principles in mind, when we think about, and engage in, the process of a farm safety audit.  This process involves four main steps:

1.       Inspection and Identification of Hazards: hazards include physical conditions or work practices

2.       Risk Assessment: assess the level of risk associated with each hazard

3.       Corrective Action: corrective actions put in place the most effective hazard control

4.       Monitoring: continued loops of safety audits identify other hazards and ensure corrective actions on previously identified hazards are maintained

Today we challenge you to get started.  Conduct the safety audit process on your seeder or planter.  As you being spring preparations, be intentional about safety; take time to identify potential hazards and then take actions to reduce or eliminate those hazards.

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*Note: The principles come from a book entitled Safety & Health for Production Agriculture by Dennis Murphy.   Read more here. I’ve added my commentary in italics.