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Planning & Training for Health & Safety (SOP)

Planning & Training for Health & Safety (SOP)

This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on planning & training for health & safety offers a task list for writing, implementing, and maintaining your first safety plan.

A holistic approach to farm safety encompasses not only physical hazards, ergonomics, hazardous materials, noise, air quality, and equipment use and repair, but also interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, and workers’ rights.

Goals of this Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) #

  • Design a comprehensive farm safety program and train all farm staff to use it. Include all staff in improving safety with an open invitation for suggestions.

  • Assess risks and plan to minimize dangers so that your farm will be a safe place for workers, farm residents, visitors, contractors, volunteers, and especially children.

Writing and implementing your farm safety plan #

Step 1: Make a file with all content for safety trainings (see resources below for training modules). Include a record to keep track of who has been trained and when.

Step 2: Annual checks and reviews:

  1. Review the farm’s employee handbook and policies including conflict resolution process.
  2. Required farm postings on labor rights, workers comp, nearest medical facilities, and farm safety postings, such as restricted entry signs (e.g., “Farm Personnel Only,” or “Danger: Pesticide storage”).
  3. Safety supplies: First aid kit, gloves, hearing protection, safety glasses, masks, aprons, and all other appropriate PPE. Stock water rescue equipment (ropes, flotation devices) if appropriate.
  4. Electrical safety: Review all equipment, outlets, wiring, and switches.
  5. Vehicle and equipment: Check for good condition for safe usage. Check ROPS, PTO shields, seat belts, and other safety devices. Service as necessary.
  6. Ladders and stairways: Check condition of railings and rungs, etc.

Step 3: Solicit input from employees concerning any hazards they feel should be addressed.

Step 4: Using the AJP’s template for a farm safety plan as a guide, write a farm safety plan that includes:

  1. Farm map with locations of possible hazards. Post a copy where fire fighters can find it easily. Include:
    1. All flammable/combustible materials and fuel storage;
    2. pesticide storage;
    3. equipment;
    4. livestock;
    5. crop storage and inventory of feed, grain, seed.
  2. Annual/periodic safety checks and reviews (see above).
  3. Communication plan so that farm staff can communicate with each other and remain aware of each other’s whereabouts (phones, walkie talkies, buddy system). Include a process for workers to inform management or a safety committee about known hazards as they arise.
  4. Records of staff allergies and known medical conditions, as well as swimming skills if there’s a body of water on the farm.
  5. Safety supplies, PPE, and other safety or rescue equipment.
  6. Training on ergonomics: lifting, repetitive motion, safe use of hand tools.
  7. Training on safe livestock handling.
  8. Training on weather safety: cold and heat stress, UV exposure, and plan for weather emergencies (fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.)
  9. Training on pesticides and chemicals: Protective gear, application, reentry time, consequences of exposure. (EPA Worker Protection Standard trainings are required each year for all employees on farms that use any EPA-listed products, including many OMRI-listed products.) Store Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and chemical labels in central, accessible location.
  10. Guidelines for safety around vehicles, cargo, and equipment.
  11. Training on vehicle use and basic maintenance and repair.
  12. Training on equipment use and basic maintenance and repair.
  13. Training on possible violence on farm and how to respond.
  14. Special considerations for safety of children and youth.
  15. Short version of essential elements of farm safety to share with volunteers or short-term farm helpers, visitors, school tours.

Step 5: Each year, create a schedule for trainings so that people are trained before they are exposed to any potential hazards, as part of new staff orientation. Schedule regular reviews and request safety suggestions and feedback from everyone. Make action plans for mitigating hazards at these meetings. Schedule an end of season evaluation. Consider offering professional trainings in first aid (available through the American Red Cross and other local/regional providers, in person or online).

Step 6: Train all new and returning staff members; farm family or residents; volunteers and visitors; and contractors. Trainings should enable people on the farm to protect themselves and each other, find protective equipment, get information, and get help in a timely way. Review your comprehensive safety plan together with staff and others who regularly spend time at the farm. Since different people learn in different ways, it is helpful to present the information people need in several different forms or media including oral presentations, written guides, and physical demonstrations and practice sessions. Provide training in a language that workers understand well.

Step 7: Make the written safety plan available to all employees. Post it in a prominent place, along with other required workplace postings.

Resources for compiling safety trainings #