The dairy industry plays a big role in the economy of New Mexico, and the process of safely and productively raising and caring for dairy cows is a necessary piece of the puzzle for the state's dairy workforce.
Especially for a worker who is new to the world of dairy farming, the prospects of successfully working with large animals, specialized equipment and outdoor weather conditions is highly dependent on proper and effective training and guidance.
To help ensure dairy farm workers and dairy managers have the most accurate and up-to-date information available on the basic principles for health and safety, New Mexico State University's Extension dairy program is helping to produce training videos that outline best practices when on the dairy. Now, these videos are easily accessible on a newly established YouTube Channel for the U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers: www.youtube.com/USagCenters.
"The new YouTube channel is a way to reach millions of people with safety and health information," said project administrator Allison DeVries, of the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.
One 17-minute video, titled "General & Outside Worker Training," covers a wide range of topics, from cleanliness, protective equipment and fire danger to ladder safety, livestock handling and how to work outdoors safely. It includes guidance on how to use the herding instinct to coax dairy cattle into a trailer, proper lifting techniques and safety around bulls.
The video is one of a series of dairy safety training videos titled "Considering Human and Animal Safety," produced under the direction of Robert Hagevoort, dairy specialist for NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.
"We want to be able to provide the tools to producers to enable employees to perform job functions properly and safely," Hagevoort said. "It is important to provide some structure to this whole process."
These educational videos were produced by the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium in partnership with NMSU Cooperative Extension, NMSU Dairy Extension, the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education (Southwest Center), USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HICAHS).
Hagevoort said providing guidance with a video can be far more effective than offering training with written materials because most adults are visual learners. Dairy employees also may have limited English communication skills, and so a video can do a better job of demonstrating a safe practice or technique.
The next step in the process will be the development of online, interactive training software that producers can use to ensure employees view the videos and successfully demonstrate their knowledge of the new material through online test-taking. The dairy producer would be able to develop a suite of online training activities that would give a comprehensive database of all employees' progress in the training process.
"This is taking human resources management on dairies to the next level," Hagevoort said.
The YouTube Channel is a joint effort of all 10 Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Southwest Center and HICAHS represent two of these 10 centers. The Ag Centers have created more than 50 videos pertaining to working safely in agriculture, forestry and fishing. The channel was launched Nov. 1 with about a dozen videos. More videos will be released over the next several months.