How to minimize farm safety risks

September 7, 2021
Matt Surdick, health and safety manager at CHS, discusses how to prevent serious injuries from occurring on your operation.

Harvest is a busy time of year on the farm — and more work means increased risk of injury.

“Someone’s close call or near miss might be another person’s serious injury or costly equipment repair,” says Matt Surdick, health and safety manager, CHS. “That’s why it’s so important to learn from these near misses and prevent the incident from happening again in the future.”

Maintaining a culture of safety requires being supportive when people report safety issues. That includes making every effort to address their concerns. Doing nothing is the worst way to respond, Surdick says. “Show that your farm management cares about the safety of individuals,” says Surdick. “It takes courage to call out safety concerns, so farm operators should promote a ‘see something, say something’ work environment.”

Surdick adds it’s important to remember that each person has a different level of experience with equipment and risky situations. Relying on common sense to guide safe behavior is a recipe for failure. Allowing employees to learn from others’ mistakes benefits the safety of everyone involved in the farm operation.

Safety hazards should be addressed as they occur, he advises, but after harvest is a great time to discuss what went well and what issues came up throughout the season. During these discussions, ask questions and work as a team to come up with practical solutions for next year.

“The more eyes on a situation, the better,” says Surdick. “When everyone is looking out for each other and sharing what they see, we can really make a difference in farm safety.”