Are you ready for the kids to come running off the school bus on the last day of school and right into the farm yard? Summer vacation for children raised on farms is usually filled with memory-making activities and surely no boredom. We remember the days of playing Little House on the Prairie with neighborhood friends. That, of course, included fetching water the old-fashioned way in nearby puddles and streams and maybe making a fort in the hay loft. But for one family, fond memories like that are now tarnished. We were deeply saddened to hear of one New Hampshire 11-year-old boy who tragically died two days after a silage pile face collapsed on him in late April. These stories should be a wake-up call to all of us. Take proactive steps now to avoid another tragedy like this.
In a recent weekly update from Western United Dairyman, we found some great key factors to prevent accidental injuries and deaths, in addition to preventing liability from accidents. These key factors include:
1. Access control: Dairy farms should have a policy for visitors that requires them to check in with a member of the staff upon arrival instead of giving them free-rein of the farm. If a visitor is near a hazard like a hay stack or feed pile, it should be noted to the visitor.
2. Posting: When biosecurity is a concern (places like parlors, hospital barns, and maternity areas), these areas should be posted for no access unless by authorized personnel. Manure lagoons or pits should be posted with warning signs, and roadways should have signs indicating truck and equipment traffic.
3. Rules and regulations: All employees should be trained on access policies and be instructed never to bring children or other nonemployees to the farm.
4. Housing agreements and rules: If employees live on the premise, housing agreements that are written and signed should be completed. Children should not be allowed to play in roadways or working areas of the farm and dogs should not be allowed to roam free.
5. Compliance: State OSHA compliance can reduce employee injuries by improving safety programs. If you're unsure about regulations in your area or if your farm needs to be in compliance, contact your local OSHA office.