Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
On the feedlot, a well-trained worker is a safe worker. Because experienced, seasoned employees are becoming harder to find, feedlot managers are turning to in-depth training for new and returning hires to ensure that everyone knows how to work safely. Take a look at this review of feedlot safety to make sure your operation is as safe as possible.
Beef production managers are facing new challenges with an increasing number of novice applicants having little-to-no agricultural experience, according to a recent study of Texas cattle feeders. Here’s what you need to know when training returning employees or on-boarding new employees for work in feedlots:
Review electrical shock risks. From watering system pumps to pen receiving systems there’s a risk of electrical shock due to frayed wiring or other causes. Show workers where the electrical cut-offs and breaker panels are. Use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets when running extension cords to reduce the risk of shock, and have them tested to be sure that they’re working as designed. Hire a licensed electrical contractor to review and inspect your operation annually to be sure the electricity is flowing safely.
Train workers on electric fencing risks. Review where and how electric fences around your operation are used. Identify the lockout-tagout (LOTO) process — required to keep maintenance workers safe — are understood by all workers. Review the potential for fire that these systems pose as well. Keep the electric fence controller outside and securely mounted to non-combustible material.
The main focus of pinch point awareness training for employees is to reduce injury rates by staying aware of where their clothes, personal affects and body is relative to the hazard.
Footing is key. Be sure that workers have an awareness of where — and how — they are positioned around pinch points. They should move slowly and with care near these areas.
Avoid loose-fitting clothes. Request that staff avoid wearing clothes with loose sleeves or drawstrings when they’re working near pinch points.
Power-down, wait and disconnect. If any work needs to be performed on one of these machines, be sure staff knows to disconnect power after the machine has come to a complete stop. Never begin work on a machine that’s still moving. Remember to practice safe LOTO protocols to prevent injury from mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic and electric shock while servicing equipment.
Pinch points aside, there are many ways feedyards can injure employees. Take a look at these tips on training workers about other hazards that exist in the feedyard:
Explore cattle management systems. Cattle alleys, in addition to the processing and hospital areas, can degrade over time. As these pathways and work areas get worn down by cattle traffic, they’ll require regular upkeep.
Keep your stairways compliant with local codes. Review code-specified height and size of all handrails, catwalks and other areas where workers use stairs and be sure these areas are compliant with local and state codes.
Waste management safety training. Sedimentation areas, retention ponds and other areas where animal waste is stored need to be protected to prevent accidental entry/injury to both humans and animals. Maintain and inspect perimeter fencing to ensure that access to these areas is properly restricted.
Maintain fencing and corral systems. Proper upkeep of production pens can help prevent serious injuries to workers. Inspect these enclosures frequently for evidence of damage. If cattle escape they can cause significant damage to property and crops.
Prevention of fires. Because the handling and storage of hay and dry feeds can increase the risk of fire, be sure to have a fire emergency plan in place. Keep charged, annually-inspected fire extinguishers on site and safely mounted within each piece of equipment to reduce the likelihood of fires getting out of control.
Reduce the risk of hay fires. In order to prevent the loss of your entire hay inventory to fire, store haystacks in small sections and on either ends of the yard. If a fire does occur, it can more easily be contained that way. Develop a routine maintenance plan for cleaning out chaff and dry material from engine compartments of tractors and grinding equipment to reduce that risk of fire.
Guarding of power take-off (PTO) shafts and equipment. Train employees on the importance of staying clear of moving machinery parts, and be sure to check that all PTO shields and guards are securely mounted and working as designed. Prominently place and maintain warning placards and signs on tractors and PTO equipment clearly stating that these safety shields must be kept in place. Assign several workers to the task of conducting seasonal inspections on all equipment with these guards to ensure they’re working safely and as designed.
Develop a plan for emergency livestock handling. Cattle handling in emergencies is also an important training. Review several scenarios, like livestock escape and worker injury.
Review the feed truck loading and unloading process. Once your employees are feeling comfortable in the feedlot, train them on how to safely load and unload head of cattle into and out of transport trailers.
Check in on the slow-moving vehicle emblems. Verify that livestock transport trailers traveling off the property are outfitted with highly reflective, well-mounted emblems.
While you’re training new and seasoned employees, remember also to check in with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) and review your additional policies to be sure you’re covered. You’ll be glad to know your investments are insured and you’ll feel better knowing you’ve done all you can to make your feedlot as safe as possible.