Dairy workers are especially at risk for injury (fatal and non-fatal) from accidents with animals and machinery. Common accidents include being kicked by a cow, being pinned between a cow and a fixed object such as a wall or fence, or hurt using heavy equipment.
Training employers on health and safety is important to the Western Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (WCAHS), which has worked in conjunction with the Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Educational Program (WOSHTEP) to develop a training guide that includes sample training sessions using participatory adult-education methods. Dairy owners and managers can download the free Dairy Safety Training Guide in English or Spanish.
The training guide is designed to help:
- Reduce the number of days away from work and lost productivity. The best way to reduce costs, retain jobs and maintain a productive workforce is to reduce injuries.
- Lower workers’ compensation costs. Medical costs in the workers’ compensation systems have begun to increase in recent years. The cost of workers’ compensation for the dairy industry is about three times the average cost of workers’ compensation in California, according to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB).
- Prevent job injuries and illnesses. Regular training helps employees learn how to avoid hazards, keeps lines of communication open between you and your employees, and lets employees know that you are serious about promoting safe work practices.
Step-by-step instructions are provided for conducting five 30-minute sessions on: 1) Identifying Hazards, 2) Controlling Hazards, 3) Machinery Safety, 4) Animal Safety, and 5) Planning for Emergencies.
For each of these sessions, trainers are given a teaching plan. This includes an objective (e.g., teach employees how to identify basic safety practices when using different kinds of machinery), instructions on how to introduce the topic, teaching exercises (e.g., case studies, activity sheets), and a summary.
Employee participation is a cornerstone of the training. For example, the trainer is provided with case studies of real dairy accidents, such as an employee being hurt by a bull or being pinned under a tractor. The trainer then asks, “What might have prevented this injury?” to get people to brainstorm about possible alternative strategies that could have been used. Suggested answers are in the guide to help with the discussion.
Other activities include identifying safety hazards in “What is Wrong With the Picture?” [see pictures below], and the guide has the answers, such as not overloading a forklift or having two people ride in a one-person tractor.
The dairy training guide also has a fotonovela or comic book called “How Pablo Learned to Work” in Spanish and English that covers important dairy cow behavior and handling. For example, below Pablo learns that cows have a blind spot, and they can be easily startled and may kick you if you suddenly move from behind them.
Teresa Andrews, the WCAHS Education and Outreach Specialist, helped design the fotonovela. The pictures and text make it a very easy and fast way for employees to learn important safety information.
WCAHS is a proud developer of the Dairy Safety Training Guide, which has been used successfully in the dairy industry. You can find other free bilingual training materials on topics, such as designing workplace injury and illness plans, on the WCAHS training webpage. WCAHS also has a YouTube channel that features a four-part Spanish video series on symptoms and prevention of heat illness.