Agriculture is a hazardous occupation and leads all other U.S. industries in work-related fatalities. A majority of agricultural accidents involve some type of machinery or equipment. On pork operations, most accidents occur during animal/human interaction.
Safety is every employee’s responsibility since most injuries occur while doing routine chores. However, providing a healthy and safe workplace starts with owners and managers. They are responsible for informing employees of existing hazards and training them to recognize and report other hazards. Making sure employees have the information, training, experience and supervision to do their jobs safely should be an objective on all operations, regardless of size.
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pork industry is double the average on injuries and accidents,” says Jim Lummus, National Pork Board’s education program manager. “Workers are getting hurt on the job, which not only harms the person injured but costs time away from work, lost experience and lower production efficiency. In addition, your insurance premiums will likely go up.”
You will need records on safety training if your operation comes under the scrutiny of safety officials or even insurance officials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s mission is to ensure worker health and safety on operations with 11 or more employees by setting and enforcing workplace safety standards. “OSHA also provides safety training and works on the continuous improvement of operations,” Lummus says.
Even if you have fewer than 11 employees, you should be familiar with OSHA standards. “If you’re sued by someone for allowing a dangerous situation to exist, you may still be measured by OSHA safety standards,” he adds.
Establishing a culture of safety on your farm will help attract new employees, retain long-term employees and reduce insurance rates. Lummus provides the following objectives for an effective safety program:
• Provide an environment that encourages safety awareness and compliance from all employees.
• Minimize accidents, both human and material, by taking a proactive approach to safety; identify unsafe or hazardous conditions in every area of the operation.
• Provide a uniform policy of safety management that’s consistent with OSHA and insurance carriers’ standards.
• Define specific responsibilities to effectively enforce all safety policies, procedures and programs.
• Provide a method to develop and update safety education and training.
• Provide a way for all employees to participate in an ongoing safety program.
NPB’s Pork Production Safety System workbook provides recommendations on specific safety topics for pork operations. To learn more, visit http://tinyurl.com/4orau2n.