Just as Colorado's economy is diverse, so are the health and safety concerns of its workers.
Field workers, ranch hands and other workers in the $47 billion agriculture industry face unique risks.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) ranks the sector as one of the most hazardous industries, which is why it's crucial to implement programs to help keep workers safe.
Here are some best practices for promoting health and safety in an agricultural setting and preventing accidents at work — all of which can help reduce workers' compensation costs.
Since a large proportion of Colorado's estimated 40,000 agricultural workers come from outside the United States, they may not speak English as their first language.
When training agricultural workers, you may encounter language or cultural differences. Using bilingual training materials and resources can help ensure your team understands safety protocols. Fortunately, a wide variety of bilingual materials and training resources is available, including from the Colorado Livestock Association.
Some workers may try to skip steps that promote safety in order to save time during a day that's already long and tiring. That's why it's important to create a safety culture and for leadership to model sound practices.
By holding workers accountable, you will underscore that safety is part of the job and help reinforce your messaging and training.
Many of the top hazards for any worksite pose a threat in an agricultural setting, with some nuances. Here are three key hazards to watch for:
One key part of an agricultural worker's job is lifting and handling livestock. This can lead to strains and other repetitive motion injuries. Strains are the top cause of injury across all industries and can be the most severe.
You can help prevent conditions like shoulder and lower back pain by demonstrating proper form for lifting calves or milking cows and for performing general maintenance.
You can also promote better health outcomes and higher productivity by encouraging workers to switch tasks so they aren't using the same muscles all day, and by demonstrating stretches that can help them recover from strenuous activities.
Farms can be dangerous places to work because of the variety and number of heavy vehicles and other farm equipment in use. Here are some best practices to help minimize the risks:
Agricultural workers have the important job of maintaining our food supply, helping us feed our families. You can encourage your team to be proud of their efforts and underscore the importance of preventing injury at work.
While creating a culture of safety is important to keep your team healthy and safe, remember that it can also help reduce your workers' compensation claims.