The National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff are providing resources to help producers prioritize safety in the workplace.
Dr. Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health with the National Pork Board, stresses a safe workplace or farm is important for the workers and the animals.
“It’s extremely important. In fact, it’s always important to prioritize safety when you’re at work,” said Fowler. “In the swine industry, we have a set of We Care ethical principles that describes responsible and ethical pork production. One of those principles is our people. Within that principle we talk about worker safety and really covering our people within the industry. With that said as relates to worker safety, we recognize if our people aren’t healthy, they’re not going to be able to give the best care to our pigs.”
Fowler notes that any workplace has hazards, but awareness and prevention are important for overall safety. She says the added stress of springtime work and extra-long days on the farm should be a time of extra worker safety precautions.
“This is definitely a year-round goal and it’s important to make sure that especially when things get busy right, that’s when we start to maybe cut corners as we’re trying to do a given task,” said Fowler. “Maybe lifting and moving materials, we’re not lifting the appropriate way, that can have long-term consequences. So, it’s absolutely imperative that we prioritize worker safety and everything we do year-round.”
Fowler says a worker safety assessment, specific to your farm, is a great place to start.
“Our producers are encouraged to do some walkthroughs on their farms and try to identify potential sources of harm or hazards that might be present,” said Fowler. “Think of those kind of slip, trip and fall areas, working with their employees to understand what the most common hazards are, or where people might have been injured, collecting some of that data can help as well. But I definitely think you can start with a walkthrough and then there are other resources, and individuals and experts, you can reach out to further understand what those hazards are or might be in your workplace environment.”
Many farm safety tools can be found at porkcheckoff.org.