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For Everybody's Benefit
  Prioritizing Staff Training Improves Safety and Performance
Understand Language and Cultural Implications
Joel Slomp, Manager, Client Services, The Admin Barn
Licensed BC Recruiter
The pace of modern farming means that it’s more important than ever to ensure that safety is an ongoing priority. Current farm owners are being transitioned from managers of cows and farm practices to managers of people. For many farms, as their herds have grown, so has the diversity of their workforce, bringing together a rich mix of skills and global experience to the farm. When it comes to farm safety, this also brings another level of complexity to the equation. Language barriers and differing practices or understandings make it vital to ensure that clearly defined protocols are in place, so everyone is working on the same page. When including foreign workers into your farm safety plan, it’s key to set the tone before the hands-on
work begins.
Welcome Aboard – The Employee Orientation
The first day of a new job can be daunting. More so for a foreign worker, who is attempting to adapt to a new country, culture and job, all at the same time. Employers can help ease the transition by taking the time to provide a thorough employee orientation. The orientation is your chance to lay a foundation, to establish the importance of performing work safely and correctly, as well as identify areas where the employee may need additional training or support. It’s vital that they understand the specifics of the farm and equipment where they are working.
It's all in the details – The Employee Handbook
Part of the orientation should include reviewing your farm’s Employee Handbook with the worker. The Handbook should communicate to the worker what is expected of them, and what they can expect from your farm in turn. If English is not their first language, take the time to clarify any points of confusion your worker may have. New workers are very motivated to please their new boss and will often say ‘Yes’ to everything - understood or not understood. Consider having the worker repeat important points back to you to ensure theyunderstandwhatyouwantdoneandhowtodoit. Therein lies the key to a safer work environment.
In addition to communicating your farm procedures, an Employee Handbook is a great tool to introduce your new employees to your Abuse-Free Workplace, Animal Welfare or Health and Safety policies. Taking this time at the start of your worker’s employment can set them up for success and safety and get them performing to the best of their ability as quickly as possible. It can also save time and costs for your farm down the road.
Right on Time, Every time – Standard Operating Procedures
It’s important to set clear expectations for how work is to be done on the farm; Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an effective tool to achieve this. Creating clearly defined SOPs, that are consistently applied, are a key part of creating a safe and efficient operation. The SOPs provided by proAction offer a great template, but make sure that they are tailored specifically to your farm. SOPs make your farm safer, while increasing efficiency and ensuring employees understand both the “how” and “why” of their task. With an increasingly diverse team, it’s important to communicate the step-by-step processes that have been developed over time on your farm. This ensures everyone is following the same steps for each process, and that your production quality stays consistent. Not only does this ensure the task is performed efficiently, it also promotes smooth employee training and role transitions, promotes employee confidence, and reduces risk of error or accident.
In a multi-lingual environment, visual cues can effectively ensure each person understands how you want things done. SOPs which use checklists, flow charts and graphics are all useful visual reminders to help employees follow proper procedures. Remember: keep your SOPs visible, in the applicable area and - most importantly - up to date.
Taking the time to make sure your worker is well prepared before they are put to work is a great investment of your time. Not only does it put them at ease in their new job, but it helps lower risk of costly delays and mistakes. Providing these supports can create long lasting benefits to your farm, setting your employees - and by extension, your farm - up for success.
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