Agriculture Safety Awareness Week emphasizes family safety on the farm
Keeping family safe on the farm ranch should be a top priority, according to the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. The Montana Farm Bureau urges farmers and ranchers to review their safety programs as part of the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) March 6-12. The theme for this year is “Caution: Safety is No Accident.”
“Farming and ranching is one of those rare jobs where you take your kids to work with you,” says Les Graham, coordinator for the Montana Ag Safety Program and safety contractor with MFBF. “It’s very important that every family takes a tour of their farm or ranch every six months and takes all of the hazards into account.”
Graham encourages families to mark areas of concern with signs, posters or painted posts—something to let people know there is an area to be especially cautious or in some cases, avoided. “Your kids need to know the “go” and “no go” zones, and know those will be strictly enforced,” he said. “It’s important to talk about issues of concern, such as ditches, corrals, pens, overhead electrical wires and pens. Set up procedures about working around equipment, identifying how close you can get, staying on the back of equipment and riding on equipment.”
The safety trainer says it’s critical to set up communication with family members, whether it’s hand signals, the use of cell phones, electronic use and who is the authority to go to with communications questions.
It’s especially important that the family—including outside employees—have a safety meeting every time there is a business activity, whether it’s branding, irrigating, harvesting, haying or moving livestock.
“Train family members on the “How To Do” in work areas: don’t take for granted that everyone knows what to do,” Graham cautions. “It’s wise to even talk about near misses, and learn from those close calls.”
“There were too many kids killed last year in farm accidents, which is always tragic,” says Graham. “Taking that little extra time to ensure nobody is standing behind your tractor, that a grain bin doesn’t have kids playing in it, or giving an additional warning to avoid the pen with the bull can save lives.”
The Agricultural Safety Awareness Program is a part of the Farm Bureau Health and Safety Network of professionals who share an interest in identifying and decreasing safety and health risks. For more information and resources, visit the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Health & Safety page (http://www.fb.org/programs/healthandsafety/home/) or the ASAP Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AgSafety.
–Montana Farm Bureau Federation