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Having the Safety Talk on Your FarmLike many of you, I’ve checked out the grain bin suffocation demonstration at the farm shows and collected many farm safety brochures. I think this spring is finally the time when we’ll do things more intentionally on our farm, including have the safety talk.

Why now?

We experienced family trauma in October during harvest when a key person crashed a vehicle. It made us all realize that we need to have more safety tools and plans in place.

  • It’s time to do a safety walk around the property and clean up hazards again.
  • It’s time to fill some ice cream pails with basic first aid supplies and put them in tractor cabs and mechanic’s workplaces.
  • It’s time to have safety conversations with those folks who are aging, and who require a few adjustments to what they can safely do on the farm this spring.

Farms that rely on aging labour can find it hard to know when it is the best time and safest decision to tell folks that they no longer can work safely. This is the “s” talk, i.e., the safety talk.

[Tweet “Time to consider all of the #safety precautions you are taking on the #farm and having the “S” talk.”]

We had this experience with my father-in-law when he met a hydro pole with his harrow bar in his late seventies. We also did not know at the time that he had a brain shrinking disease. Another elder employee was badly bruised when he jumped off his tractor which had caught fire (hydraulics and straw combined in mucky conditions). For more smooth operations tips, consider my “Farming’s In-Law Factor“.

safety talk - tractor

Considerations for the Safety Talk

Every farm has a story, yet what needs to change is conflict avoidance. We all want to do good work and feel respected and appreciated for the work we contribute to the success of the farm. Having a tough conversation about safety requires a few considerations:

1. Safety First

Telling someone that their abilities are no longer safe is necessary.

2. Approach

Take the other person’s perspective, use sound listening skills, and ask them to consider the risk to others and themselves if they cannot function safely. We were concerned that Dad would hurt himself and possibly others, so he had to stop driving.

3. Create Solutions

What jobs can still be performed well? Ask the elder person, “What does a good day on the farm look like to you?” and find new tasks that work.

4. Respect

Use can use phrases like “I am just curious, do you realize that you (Fill in the blank ________,) for example, did not check all the things you needed to before you started up?”

5. Attack the Issue, Not the Person

Profanity, blaming, or accusations are not going to help the situation.” We have a problem here, your abilities to respond quickly are changing, what do you think is a good adjustment to make?” My father was very angry with me the day he was no longer allowed to drive (due to his Alzheimer’s), but I was more concerned about his well being and the well being of others. Sometimes you have to be able to accept the hurt and frustration of others in their anger and not take it personally.

safety talk considerations

These are just a few of the considerations farm families need to have when it comes to having the safety talk with other. Also, you should watch the video on Managing Generational Expectations for more tools for talking about tough issues.

Safety Resources:

There are lots of great resources available for farms who are ready to have better safety on the farm.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Association

PEI Federation of Agriculture – Foreign Worker Farm Safety Training Video. This video was created by PEI for foreign workers, but I plan to use it with a young teen who is working in our yard this summer. It is only 15 minutes in length, but it is really well done, and teens love to watch videos!

Perhaps it is time for a farm safety consultation. In Manitoba, you can go to Manitoba Farm Safety Consultations. Or search your provincial agricultural policy association for what is available in your province.

I have a farm safety box of resources that I glean from all the ag. trade shows that I attend over the winter. Some of those stickers and decals make it to a wall in the farm shop or tractor. There are ice cream pails of farm first aid supplies in tractors. It seems like it is never enough. We can have tons of information in our farm offices, but what time have we blocked off to actually do the training and talking that makes sure that every worker on our farm understands and follows our safety culture?

A Safety Culture on the Farm

Culture is an invisible glue that holds the farm together, it is what you believe about safety, how you behave by acting in a safe manner, and what you decide about following regulations and safety guidelines.

This all hits close to home for us in 2018 as our grand-daughter turns one and we begin with keeping another generation safe on our farm.  I remember keeping our toddler son in the safe zone, and now he is the father and the successor on safety watch.

safety talk - next generation

I think the biggest factor in farm safety is your attitude towards being safe and cleaning up hazards, or preventing accidents in the first place. I am a big fan of encouraging good sleep so folks are well rested on the job. As a farm family coach, I see toxic farm cultures where folks yell and scream at each other rather than acting as mature adults and creating solutions to conflict. High stressed families in conflict use way too much emotional energy in a negative fashion which creates distracted management.

I also believe that our bodies, mind, and spirits need good fuel. That means eating regular nourishing meals, affirming each other, and taking care of our mental health on a daily basis. The Do More Ag foundation is working to address ways to help farmers cope with depression, stress, and anxiety, and know that they are not alone. As a depression survivor, I encourage all farmers who have a genetic history of depression and anxiety to seek out treatment with their medical doctor.

So, you’ve had your pep talk now. What are you going to do? Make the safety stories on your farm happy ones. Stay safe. Be safe.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

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“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
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Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
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James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
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G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
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Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
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Audience Member,
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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