Building a safety culture in Agriculture

Feb 26, 2018

agriculture safetyBuilding a safety culture in farming and landscaping operations can be tricky. It's especially challenging since workers are often seasonal, spread out or working alone. These reasons make the agriculture sector especially vulnerable to health and safety hazards and issues.

"Everyone in the operation needs to have a level of conscientiousness to do their job safely when left unsupervised," explains Janet Bewers of WSPS. "A safety culture is proactively conscientious without enforcement."

Know the risks

Building a safety culture begins with knowing the risks. For farming and landscaping, these may include working with equipment, confined spaces, electrocution, falls, weather, terrain, noise levels, roadway hazards, large animals, air quality (dust and particles), psychological hazards (stress, anxiety, depression) and more.


"First identify areas where somebody can get killed or seriously injured," says Janet. "Focus on managing those high risk activities using the hierarchy of controls - elimination, substitution, engineering, administrative, work practices and personal protective equipment. Work back to hazards that are less urgent."

Promote safe working practices

Ensure your health and safety policy and procedures are written and up to date. Make sure all new employees are trained and coached on them.

Follow the process

Integrating safety standards into your operations and into people’s minds is a similar process in all sectors. It ensures everyone understands their role in working safely, reporting hazards, and watching out for each other. Consistent steps at every opportunity are the key to success.

  • Start with worker orientation. Every time a new worker comes on board, carve out time to go over your hazards, policy and procedures before the person is blended in with your crew or supervisor. If possible, assign low risk work for the first couple of weeks, until the worker has proven to be accountable and proactive.
  • Reinforce by having strong supervisors. Supervisors need to lead by example, not turn a blind eye. They can propel your programs forward, support your safety efforts, and stop when things don’t look right.
  • Validate by regularly inspecting and servicing equipment.
  • Provide support with an emergency plan. If someone gets something in their eye, what's your backup plan? Do you have a first aid kit? Where is it? Do you have a first aid policy or procedure in place?
  • Maintain with ongoing hazard assessments, refresher training, regular tailgate talks, and opportunities for worker input.
  • Celebrate success. What worked well? What didn't? How are you going to build on your success next year?

How we can help

  • WSPS has extensive online resources for farming, horticulture and landscaping operations. These resources include free downloadable guidelines, forms, fact sheets, safety topics, and templates.
  • WSPS consultants can bring fresh perspectives, new ideas and new strategies to your training program. Speak to a consultant today: 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).
  • Visit our new online Small Business Centre, where you’ll find health and safety roadmaps based on company size. Click on a size that reflects your business, and the website populates itself with resources specific to your needs.