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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Safety Training Easily Overlooked

LAS CRUCES--Whether it's family members, experienced employees or newly hired workers, safety training should be an important aspect of every farming and ranching operation, said a farm safety coordinator with New Mexico State University.

Hectic farm and ranch life often makes it difficult to find time for tasks that are not urgent. Safety training of family members and employees is an easily overlooked task until an accident occurs.

"Perhaps one of the most important aspects of training is to never assume that an individual knows what to do," said Craig Runyan, with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

There are many ways to approach farm worker safety training, including scheduling regular sessions where managers and employees can discuss safe practices and existing hazards. Managers also can work individually with employees to see what workers are aware of and understand the safety practices associated with specific jobs.

Farm and ranch managers can use safety audits to help prevent injuries by identifying hazards, recording them and taking corrective action. A safety audit should be taken seriously. The managers may need help from several workers or an "outside" observer to identify hazards that others work around every day, Runyan said.

Other safety practices such as informing workers of specific hazards in the work situation, making sure that employees use and maintain personal protective equipment and encouraging workers to report unsafe situations on the farm will help managers prevent accidents as well as limit their liability when careless accidents do occur.

"Even if a person claims to have experience, the manager should go through a training session and monitor job performance after the employee has had time to adjust to the task," Runyan said. "Being committed to a safe workplace also will encourage others to work safely."

For a complete safety checklist to use in farm safety audits, contact Runyan at (505)646-1131 or your local county Extension office.