Taken together, these two approaches to risk unable any business to manage risk, firstly by understanding what exposure to risks the business has, and their severity, and secondly by assessing the potential consequences of risk, irrespective of whether the perceived exposure is great or small.
Creating a safe environment for people to work in, is for most businesses both a moral and a legal obligation. Anyone owning or running a farm or an agricultural business will realise that this is inherently more difficult for them, than it is for people in other industries.
In large part, this is due to the nature of the environment, both physical and geographical, and the nature of the work done.
Many farms are family-owned or tenanted, and many farm employees also live on the land. This means there is a real blurring of boundaries between work and home, making real health and safety decisions and protocols quite difficult to balance.
Safety, in a business sense, can be quite fast moving and changeable, and this is especially true in farming given its dependence on mother nature and the various cycles tthat come with it.
The one area that is a constant in developing a safe environment is understanding and managing risk. This normally needs to be done in a global sense for the whole business, on a regular basis, and also specific areas on a regular possibly daily basis as well.
However risk is identified or perceived, in terms of exposure to risk, and the consequences of a risk, there is an important element that continually needs to be thought through, and that is the issue of how to reduce the nature of risk.
While that may sound very simple and practice, many people view risk in very specific ways.
Some people see risk as a natural part of life and something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, other people are very risk averse and will almost avoid risk completely. Other people will see risk almost as a static entity that needs either to be faced or avoided.
People’s attitude to risk is likely to come from their own internal sense of safety, as well as their perception of how dangerous or not a particular risk may be to them or their employees.
Whatever people’s attitudes, it is important to own them, and to challenge them, as they can present real problems in terms of identifying and managing real risks to people’s health and safety.
What follows from this, is a real need to identify risk, identify how to manage it, and most importantly identify how to reduce risk as much as possible.
When looking at how to reduce risk, there are two specific areas of context to understand. One relates to the risk itself in terms of the machinery or animal or building that presents a risk, and how that can be reduced.
The second one relates to the individual, their own temperament and ways they can reduce the risk accordingly. It is the second one that actually is perhaps more important as self-awareness and self understanding can help an individual hugely to manage or avoid risk whenever needed.
One of the best ways to reduce risk is to recognise that people often act in ways that increase risk either because they are in a hurry, or because they are being pressured to work faster or more efficiently than they believe it is safe to do so. This may sometimes be pressure from other workers, or on a farm pressure from the nature of the environment.
Farms are overly dependent on weather and weather conditions, and this can sometimes lead to undue pressures in terms of the pace of work, which in turn can lead to either behaving in a riskier way, or being willing to disregard the nature of a risk in order to achieve a particular outcome.
Training can be a really efficient way to reduce risk. Historically, n many industries, formal training was often either ignored or seen as not necessary, and on-the-job training was regarded as much more effective.
This has changed dramatically in recent years, and specific training targeted at different groups of people, has proved highly effective in both minimising risk and making them more effective in terms of how they do their job.
There is also a significant amount of online training, the worth of which can vary quite considerably, but where it is good it is very good.
On farms and agricultural premises, a certain degree of formal training is most definitely needed, in areas such as pesticides, poisons and dangerous materials.
Also simple things like reading and understanding the manual for a tractor or an ATVcan play a significant part in reducing risk.
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