Safety Saves

Cultivating safety into all aspects of farm operations is critical in protecting everyone on the dairy — from employees to animals.

“Safety tends to be one of those things employees don’t take seriously,” says Linda Artiaga, human resources manager for Whitesides Dairy in Rupert, Idaho. “We have to work to get buy-in and help them realize the importance of what we’re doing on the safety side of things.”

For years, safety has been a focus at Whitesides Dairy, but this year, the importance of safety was brought to ‘their own backyard’ when farm owner Steve Whitesides’ son had an unfortunate accident where he lost his leg while working at another company. While tragic, the accident has served as a reminder to always put the safety of Whitesides’ employees above all else.

The management team of the 6,500-cow dairy has regular meetings to talk about everything from animal handling to tractor safety. “We feel like we’re in a good place by talking about safety regularly and having a plan documented,” Artiaga says.

Whitesides Dairy utilizes DFA Insurance to stay on top of its safety plan, farm safety concerns and to be prepared in the event of an on-farm accident. Not only does the farm utilize DFA Insurance product offerings, but a valuable relationship has been built with its representative, Craig Sylves, loss prevention and farm safety consultant, who comes out to the farm several times each year to give suggestions on areas they can improve.

“It’s valuable because he [Sylves] prepares you and is there to help us keep our employees safe,” Artiaga says. “He helps us find new ways to improve.”

According to Sean Vallely, manager of loss control for DFA Insurance, eliminating physical hazards on your farm and increasing employee and family workers’ safety awareness is critical. Developing safety policies and procedures, as well as implementing employee safety committees, can prevent or significantly reduce farm-related injuries and fatalities.

“This is not only important for the safety and welfare of your workers on the farm, but a safe farm is also a more productive and more profitable farm,” Vallely says. “Studies show a good safety program saves $4–6 for every $1 invested.”

DFA Insurance’s Loss Control services focus on reducing injuries and fatalities on farms by preventing or controlling existing and emerging hazards. Customer programming can be tailored to the specific needs of your farm, much like it has been with the safety program at Whitesides Dairy.

Additional services available include:

  • Employee safety training
  • Tractor/equipment safety
  • Animal handling training
  • PTO safety and mechanical hazards
  • Electrical safety/LOTO
  • OSHA compliance assistance
  • State regulatory compliance assistance

DFA Insurance can also provide self-inspection safety checklists so you can complete your own safety audits and evaluate the safety exposures and controls on your farm. These checklists not only include OSHA compliance, but have many more detailed safety practices and areas to check.

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