by Carrie Webster

Pigs are unpredictable. Barn conditions can change without notice, and farm workers can be distracted. All of these are why making safety a priority on your farm is so important. Having safety practices in place and knowing what to do at the right time can help pork producers avoid injury and minimize the impact in the event of an on-farm incident.

“Today is always a good time to review your safety protocols and update your procedures to ensure a safe working environment for you and the pigs,” said Karen Hoare, producer learning and development director for the Pork Checkoff. “A focus on safety needs to be a constant backdrop on pig farms, with the goal of always raising the bar on creating a safer overall industry.”

The incidence of non-fatal injuries and illness in hog production is eight out of 100 workers annually, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

“It’s inevitable that injuries will happen,” Hoare said. “But we can decrease the incidence and impact of injury and illness with safety training and resources.”

Hoare added that numerous Pork Checkoff safety resources are available to producers at pork.org.

“The practical resources are a direct result of Checkoff-funded research and lessons learned and shared by America’s pig farmers for years,” she said. “With the ongoing spotlight on safety it is is no coincidence that safety is one of the industry’s six We Care ethical principles: Provide a work environment that is safe and consistent with the other ethical principles.”

This newsletter focuses on key safety tips for your farm. For more detailed information about developing a safety program for your farm and to download safety materials, go to pork.org.

Here is a quick safety checklist to get you started reviewing and updating your resources.
Provide and post an emergency action plan.

  • Make first-aid kits available.
  • Provide proper personal protective equipment and make sure it is available and worn, when appropriate, by employees.
  • Check facilities for any condition that may cause slips, trips and falls.
  • Keep a proper sharps disposal system.
  • Keep all electrical panels and other fixtures free of dust, cobwebs and other debris.
  • Maintain the ventilation systems within the confinement building.
  • Provide increased ventilation when aerating the manure pit.
  • Use correct handling tools when moving and sorting pigs.
  • Mount the fire extinguishers in an obvious place that is always reachable.
  • Develop a checklist specific to your operation and conduct monthly safety audits.
  • Conduct monthly employee safety meetings.

For the full safety audit checklist, go to pork.org.