Oregon Aglink Blog

Safety Weather

Posted on December 9, 2021

As days shorten and temperatures drop, many farms and other agricultural operations are moving from non-stop summer harvest mode to the slower pace of fall and winter. It’s what Eric Lloyd of Oregon Risk Management Solutions likes to call “safety weather”: a time where you might not have much to do in the field, but you’ve got a few extra hours to spare in your shop, office, or breakroom.

If you’re considering how to make the best use of that time, consider things like getting your annual refresher trainings out of the way and even how your overall safety program might benefit from a fresh look.

Before You Forget

After you catch your breath from harvest but before you get sunk too deep in other projects, have a quick meeting with your crew to debrief. What went well this year that you want to remember for next year? What didn’t go so well that you want to avoid in the future? 

If you’re feeling stuck, do a little “Who What Where When Why How” exercise to refresh your memories on how things went. Who solved a problem? What needed fixed? Where did things get tricky? When did things flow? Why and how did the rookie get his shirt ripped off in the bean picker?

The most important parts to remember: write this down and remember where you put it. If you really want to get fancy, flip forward in your calendar six or seven months from now and leave it in a note for yourself.

The Annual Checklist

There are four big refreshers that farms might need to remember, and the winter is the perfect time to get those done.

  1. If you run tractors, SAIF and Oregon Aglink partnered to create a “Tractor Safety Elements” video available on Youtube in both English and Spanish
  2. Worker Protection Standards (WPS) videos for agricultural workers and pesticide handlers can be found in English and Spanish on Youtube as well, or downloaded along with many other tools from Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC).
  3. Forklift refreshers can be a video, but it can also look like a hands-on skills test or a tailgate meeting where you hit the details and cover the most likely accidents.
  4. Respiratory Protection refreshers can start with checking the written program to see if it’s current, then retrain on maintenance, cleaning, and storage. Put in an order for new materials if needed.

Think Big (Or Not)

If you’re staring down that extra time this winter and looking to fill the hours, switch your thinking from checklists to wishlists: what’s the big project that you never had time for during harvest? What are the things that could prevent minor accidents from turning into major incidents, or help your farm avoid fines later on? This could be something as big as rebuilding the locked storage for your chemicals or as small as installing hooks for the hoses that keep tripping you up and the safety gear that someone keeps forgetting. You’ve got time to re-imagine your safety infrastructure and organization, so check out some online catalogs and see what’s new.

Let us know what you’re working on this winter! Contact allison@aglink.org with pictures of your crew enjoying their tractor refresher with popcorn or your newest project on the farm and you could be featured in Oregon Aglink social media.