Beyond the Barn: Protect Animals and Employees with Safety Training Program – Chase Pagel, CP Safety Consulting LLC
By Chase Pagel, CP Safety Consulting LLC
We always talk about the need to care for our cows so they can produce the best milk possible. We can go a step further and put together a great employee training program to define and demonstrate safety expectations as we provide this care. This allows employees to better understand how we want them to safely treat and care for our animals. In turn, our employees will care for calves, heifers, and cows with greater knowledge and pride.
In the end, we all want efficient, productive, healthy, and safe employees and animals.
The task of putting together an employee safety program may seem confusing and overwhelming, but it does not have to be.
Start by taking the whole farm and dividing it into departments (some farms may already do this). Departments may include automotive and mechanics, farm maintenance, and barn staff. You may want to go one step further and divide within the departments. The barn staff may specialize in milking, maternity and/or breeding. Once divided, it’s much easier to define the needs of each department.
Take the list of departments and place them side by side. Go down the list and think of training tasks that need to be done within the specific departments. Obviously, you want a milker to have training on milking parlor procedures, but do you need to train your automotive employee on these skills? Probably not if different people on your farm fill those roles. However, on many farms, one person does multiple jobs across different departments.
Some training will need to be done for all employees across the entire facility. Cattle handling is one of those training areas. Not all of your employees will have everyday contact with the animals, but challenges may arise or systems may change and proper training could help in those situations.
For example, regular maintenance or repairs may need to be performed on equipment in the barn with animals present. Machinery may fail while in use in the barn, requiring work from your mechanic. For that reason, all of these employees should be trained in basic animal handling to keep everyone safe while the work is done.
Keep in mind, while making your list, certain employee training is mandatory to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.
Visit the OSHA website to find the full OSHA Local Emphasis Program for Agriculture standards (aka: Ag LEP or the “dirty dozen”). Understanding these requirements will help you make the best training decisions for your farm.
Once you have all the information gathered, your safety program will begin to emerge. Keep a log that shows training has been completed and the dates of completion. Include signatures from all employees to confirm they have completed each training session. Remember, training is an ongoing process and something you will want to repeat to make sure your employees stay happy, healthy and safe.
Starting Strong - Calf Care