Everything you need to know about insurance basics, like coverage types, limits, cost and more.
Farm Outbuilding Maintenance and Safety
No matter how many farm buildings you have or what their primary purposes are, keeping them well-maintained is crucial to the day-to-day operation of your business. Not only does completing regularly scheduled maintenance help you avoid potentially expensive repairs, but it’ll also keep livestock, workers and family members safe on the farm.
Outbuilding Structural Maintenance
Whether your buildings house livestock or store supplies, keep them in working order by watching out for any signs of structural damage. Here are some easy ways to keep them in great shape:
Preserve the roof. Not only can a poorly-maintained barn or shed roof lead to a lengthy and expensive replacement process, but it can also lead to damage of the items stored in it. Check out our tips for keeping your outbuilding roofs strong and leak-free. Just remember — leave the actual roof repairs to the professionals.
Check the siding. Getting a good look at all of your buildings’ siding, especially after a strong wind, rain or snowstorm, can help you prevent a small dent or separation from turning into a full-scale replacement and further structural damage. Make sure you trim any branches or other brush that rub against it, too.
Examine the doors and windows. Checking your buildings’ door and window seals can help you keep livestock more comfortable, healthy and safe from the elements over the course of the winter. It can also keep out unwanted moisture and other pests from getting into your inventory.
Clean and care for the floors. You probably have a wide variety of outbuilding flooring on your farm — from cement floors with drainage grates to wood-board flooring, they can’t care for themselves. Keeping them free of unnecessary debris, cleaning them regularly and checking for erosion or damage should be a weekly task on your farm.
If you do find damage, avoid walking or storing anything near it until the floor can be fixed or replaced by a professional.
Inspect the drains. If the drainage system has a buildup of debris in its drainage system, it can be exposed to a number of negative things like mold caused by the extra moisture, damaged flooring and/or a buildup of harmful bacteria. Check your drainage system often since even a small amount of buildup can do long-lasting harm.
Farm Building Safety Tips
Now that you’ve got all the tools you need to keep your buildings in good shape, check out these tips for keeping yourself and any other farm workers safe from danger:
Add and maintain handrails. Your building and the area around it should have sturdy, well-built handrails wherever there is a man-made incline or stairs. If a handrail is loose or worn down, have it fixed right away. It’s not just for your safety — in many localities, it’s the law.
If any of your buildings have multiple levels accessed by a ladder, inspect each of them entirely with great care. And if you find one needs to be replaced, opt for professional installation of a heavy-duty ladder made of a more durable material than wood.
Make fire extinguishers easy to access. There are few things more damaging to a business than a fire. To keep your livestock, family members and workforce as safe as possible, put fire extinguishers in multiple locations in and around each outbuilding. Train all members of your workforce and family to use them, too.
Store chemicals safely. If you use any fertilizers, pesticides or other farming chemicals, check their storage instructions and follow them to a tee. Keep them away from any animals or workers in a locked, safe and secure area.
Check the ventilation. Whether your building has a natural ventilation system or one operated by a fan or air inlet, maintaining its functionality will help you keep some humidity out, release unpleasant smells and get rid of allergens.
Keep your property well-lit. You’re used to getting up early and working late, so give yourself and your workers appropriate lighting for increased safety after the suns sets.
Inspect electrical components. Make sure all wiring, outlets and other electrical components are in working order and aren’t worn down. Replace any components as soon as you notice signs of damage or wear.
Securing Your Farm Buildings
Unfortunately, farms and ranches can fall victim to thieves if not secured properly. Round out your safety plan with these security tips:
Lock it up. Whenever you quit work for the evening or leave your property, make sure all doors and windows to your buildings are locked. Investing in padlocks for your doors is a great way to deter a criminal from the get-go — and stop a more determined thief, too.
Keeping your expensive farm machinery and equipment out of sight when it’s not in use can help deter theft, too. Consider putting a wheel lock on your vehicles if you’ll be gone for a few days, or even removing their batteries entirely until you return. Check out the rest of our tips for preventing farm equipment theft here.
Add motion-sensor security lighting. You’ve already got lights that help you work when it’s dark, so take an extra step by adding security lighting around your property. Giving a vandal the impression that someone has spotted them is often enough to send them packing.
Install a security system. Your outbuildings store your most important resources, so consider installing a full-scale security system and avoid having to replace or repair damaged inventory later on.
Protecting your property from the wear-and-tear, the weather, daily use and criminal activity is hard work. But when it comes to making your business successful, it’s worth it. Your American Family Insurance agent can help your farm flourish, too, by guiding you towards the right kind of insurance for your farm. Don’t hesitate to get in touch — your agent is always happy to help.