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Cultivate the right attitude farmsafety

Leading by example is by far themost powerful way to establish acceptable and expected safety behaviour. By Theresa Whalen


ffective ag safety practices require skill and a positive attitude. It is not enough simply to know how to do things safely – you also have to have the drive to actually do it. You have to ‘walk the talk’. So how do you create a great safety attitude in your farm operation? Lead by example, give feedback, provide training, involve employees and offer safety incentives.

Leading by example is by far the most powerful way to establish acceptable and expected safety behaviour on your farm. If the employer makes it clear that the safe way is the only way to work on his or her farm, then employees follow suit. Feedback involves letting the worker know how well his or her performance meets the expected work standards – but first you must let them know what the expected standard is.

Training is an important means of influencing how people think and behave. It not only shows them how to do the job, but also establishes possible consequences of their behaviour to themselves and others. Make sure workers know how to do the whole job safely, not just the one or two steps that they did wrong. Employee involvement in farm safety is an effective way of changing worker beliefs by increasing understanding, and offering a greater sense of support and pride in their work.

And finally, safety incentives based on things that workers have to learn, do or remember can be effective in improving farm safety behaviour. For example, a worker could be sent for specialized safety training paid for by the farm. This will give the worker some time away from the farm

Tractors among the most dangerous pieces of farm machinery. Recent research has shown that, when used together, rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seatbelts are 98 percent effective in preventing tractor-related injuries and deaths.

routine, enhance their employable job skills, and make them a more capable and valuable employee on the farm.

It is important to remember that rewards should be based on correct actions rather than based on not having incidents, because that could discourage accident reporting. By getting to know your workers and what is important to them, you will learn the best way to encourage and motivate them into becoming more safety conscious on your farm. For more information on this and other farm safety topics visit



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“Plan • Farm • Safety” is the three- year theme of the three-year Canadian Agricultural Safety campaign, which was launched in 2010. In 2010 the campaign promoted “Plan,” with safety walkabouts and planning for safety. This year’s focus is on “Farm” including implementation, documentation and training. In the third year, emphasis will be on “Safety,” including assessment, improvement and further development of safety systems. — Theresa Whalen is farm safety consultant with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

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