Snowden: Being Mindful Keeps Everyone Safe on the Farm


posted on Thursday, September 27, 2018 in Central Region News

Worker safety is a top priority at my farm. My team of employees is the lifeline of the sow farm, and without them, our sows would not receive the care that they need. When everyone is safe at work, our tasks are more enjoyable. It is not fun having an injury, so I help train and retrain my team on the proper uses of personal protective equipment and the farm protocols, so we can continue to work in a safe environment.

To keep my team and me safe, I am extra mindful of tasks where more caution is needed while working at the farm. We do our very best to have a safe work environment. I have worked at a sow farm for the past two years and have only had one minor accident that was due to a pressure washer.

We use a pressure washer at the farm to clean the farrowing rooms after the sows are moved to the breeding barn, and the piglets are weaned. Once the room is clean, we inspect each stall with two people. One person uses a flashlight, and the other has the power-washing wand to clean any debris missed. While checking the room, my teammate lost control of the power-washer wand and took the power-washing wand up my arm. The pressure from the water left behind marks from the swirling wand tip, and my arm became bruised. From that incident, we learned that both hands must be placed on the pressure washer wand to have better control and the wand trigger should not be pulled until the wand is in the stall away from others.

We use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is equipment used to prevent injury. Some typical examples of PPE I use on the farm include; safety glasses, sorting boards, earplugs and gloves. Each morning before first round chores begin, everyone at the farm is asked to wear clothing and boots that fit them correctly, carry gloves to protect their hands during specific tasks that might be asked to perform, and have the option to get earplugs to protect their ears and a dust mask all before they even see one pig. If the task is more complicated, like running a pressure washer, additional PPE is required like eye protection, ear protection and a rain suit. Besides, pressure washing is a team of two task to make sure all equipment is running correctly.

Animal movement can cause worker injury if proper equipment is not used. I use a sorting board when moving small groups of animals to protect my body from the pigs. We also conduct routine maintenance on doors, gates, power washers and skid loaders to ensure worker safety.

Inside of our sow farm, there are posters from the National Pork Board that depict what PPE is needed for different tasks on the farm, as well as graphics on how to move animals safely. Also, my employer uses safety information from various resources, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to create our worker safety program. Every month, our farm calls in for the monthly safety meeting that my employer provides. Each month, a new topic is covered and reviewed with all employees. Some meeting topics have been fire safety, first aid and proper use of PPE. My employer is also involved with the safety round table hosted by the National Pork Board which provides us with new information and ideas.

A sow farm is a busy place where several tasks are being completed each day. Therefore, it is essential everyone understands the safest methods and correct equipment needed to complete the tasks successfully and safely.

Full article with pictures can be found here


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