As many are in the midst of a busy harvest season, it is important to remember safety tips and items that can help save lives on farms. Chris St. Pierre has 27 years of experience in fire and emergency services, along with farm experience, and he shared safety practices on a recent episode of the Professional Dairy Producers’ (PDPW) Dairy Signal broadcast.
St. Pierre walked through safety items farms should have, appropriate responses to an emergency, and preventative safety measures. However, he said none of these are effective without training and retraining.
Common items St. Pierre mentioned that can provide safety on farms were:
- First aid kits and fire extinguishers
- A mass trauma kit to address bleeding
- Automated external defibrillator (AED) to keep someone alive until emergency responders arrive
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as high visibility attire, safety glasses, and gloves (PPE can help prevent major injuries)
- Atmospheric monitoring alarms and gas alarms to monitor confined spaces
- A binder with Safety Data Sheets that come with chemicals
St. Pierre also discussed the importance of safety meetings with employees on the farm. These don’t need to be long and formal; they can be a quick sit down to go over a new safety item on the farm, for example. By opening up the dialogue on safety on farms, it helps demonstrate the importance of safety to the team and creates a positive culture. Employees will be more comfortable sharing an incident that happened. When any training is done, document it with a date and time. This can be useful for potentially reducing insurance premiums and is important if an accident were to happen on your farm.
St. Pierre also recommended creating a relationship with your local first responders. They can help with training, walk through the farm and identify hazards, and become more familiar with your operation if they were ever dispatched for an emergency. Insurance agents and technical colleges also offer resources for on-farm training and farm walk-throughs. OSHA has agriculture-specific training items as well.
If an emergency arises on your farm, St. Pierre recommends these three steps:
- Reach out and call 911 for help.
- Help direct 911 to the location of the accident. You can use latitude and longitude if it isn’t easy to give directions to. You can also send someone to the site entrance to bring responders to the emergency location.
- Assess the area and make sure it is safe for you to help. If it is not safe, wait for emergency response.
St. Pierre noted that the site of the address should be posted in a clear location. In addition, he said to train non-English speaking employees that if they call 911 and don’t get a bilingual dispatcher, they need to wait and a translator will join the call.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure you go home to your families and friends,” emphasized St. Pierre.
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
October 23, 2023