Safety in the agricultural industry: How can we change the mindset? - Sedgwick
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Safety in the agricultural industry: How can we change the mindset?

Owners in the agricultural industry are faced with many safety exposures, but there are proactive steps to take in reducing those exposures. Injuries do not have to be the cost of doing business. But how can we change the mindset and make a measurable impact on safety? This is the focus of an upcoming panel I will moderate at the 2020 World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, taking place from February 11-13.

For those who aren’t familiar, the World Ag Expo is the world's largest annual agricultural exposition where more than 1,500 exhibitors display the latest in farm equipment, communications and technology on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. Free seminars focus on a variety of topics important to dairy producers, farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals.

While there are many things to explore at the Expo, focusing on the safety of the agricultural workforce is one area where investing time to learn could reap dividends in productivity and profitability – and in peace of mind. By taking a 360 degree look at the safety process in the agricultural industry today, we can ask the right questions of the right stakeholders, understand root causes and take a closer look at claims trends. Through awareness and education, we can identify the most effective methods of injury prevention, take steps to change the mindset in our workplaces, and ensure that the workers supporting agribusiness are able to safely return home to their lives and families at the end of each day. 

Bringing together the right stakeholders

Many different individuals play a role in agricultural safety.  The stakeholders include:

  • Safety managers, who are the boots on the ground
  • Risk managers, with insight into claims and the impact they have on individuals
  • CFOs, with an eye on the bigger financial picture
  • Brokers, who have a higher-level view of concerns and trends across multiple clients in the ag industry

What can these stakeholders tell us? Real stories. Firsthand accounts of accident scenarios they’ve faced. Corrective actions they’ve implemented. What’s worked…and what hasn’t in preventing dangerous incidents. Individually, they have compelling perspectives; together they can help form a complete view and recommend practical action steps for immediate implementation and results in the workplace.

Asking the right questions

During next week’s World Ag Expo, we’ll talk with experts representing each of these areas, ask questions to learn from their experience and get their thoughts and ideas on safety. For those able to join us for our discussion, "Importance of Safety in the Agricultural Industry: Changing the Mindset – Injuries Do Not Have to be the Cost of Doing Business" on Thursday, we believe you will walk away with new strategies to consider. For those who aren’t able to join us, consider asking some of the same questions of your extended team to help inform your own mindset on safety and identify opportunities for change in your operation.

So, what are the types of questions to ask?

  • The safety manager is closest to injured workers. They provide direct support – from coordinating transportation to conducting investigations and root cause analysis to taking witness statements – and support compliance. Things to ask: What’s driving work-related injuries? What’s working to reduce injuries? How can we support injured employees and improve their morale, as well as the morale of the rest of the workforce following a coworker’s injury?
  • The risk manager can share examples and strategies. Things to ask: What triggering events or “ah ha” moments have you faced that shaped your safety strategy? How are you prepared to respond to catastrophic situations? Have you tried and tested any changes to equipment or processes?
  • The CFO will offer perspective on the impact of safety on the bottom line. Things to ask? What examples have helped you link the importance of safety in this industry to financial performance? How does the response to an injury, particularly a catastrophic one, make a difference? Have you seen firsthand the consequences of poor safety measures or inadequate response to challenges?
  • The broker is able to provide a broader perspective and present information to use in benchmarking a program. Things to ask: What are the frequency and severity trends in different segments of the industry? Can you share success stories or examples that have resulted in improved performance? What strategies are working for similar operations? What benefits can captive programs offer vs. traditional guaranteed cost programs?

I’m looking forward to hearing the answers to these questions and more from an excellent panel of experts – a safety manager, risk manager, CFO and broker. I hope you’ll be able to join us during the World Ag Expo to benefit from their experience and powerful collective knowledge. Whether you’re attending the Expo or not, feel free to ask your own questions in the comments section and we’ll connect to share strategies.  

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