Even though MacFarlane Pheasants raises game birds, we’re still a farm, and that means we take special precautions to keep our employees safe in the workplace. Every year 125 people die from tractor accidents in the U.S., and agricultural work has all kinds of pitfalls. How we reduce the likelihood of injury is simple, according to our maintenance and transportation manager Art Schumacher. It’s all about the training of new employees, training them some more, and then training them again.
Schumacher’s favorite method of training new staff on the skid steer is in a parking lot during the winter. Our traffic is much lower in the winter months, and Schumacher and his staff can take new employees out to the parking lot and let the move snow back and forth. This works wonders, as it’s impossible to wreck snow. They’re also able to use the whole machine and really get to know how it works.
All employees who operate the machinery are given several hours of practice, followed by an actual test to discern proficiency. Their training is conducted by Schumacher and his full-time staff, which is vital considering our reliance on seasonal help in our high-demand season. Over the last few months Schumacher says he’s trained or supervised the training of five staff. Before that, he doubts he’d trained that in the previous eight months. Being aggressive with staff training as needed has been key to our success.
Schumacher, whose background is in trucking, takes the issue of safety on the farm very seriously. Through the staff’s effort, MacFarlane Pheasants is seeking to make our farm a safer place. Our rate of employee injury is low, but as Schumacher says, “Unless it’s zero, you’re never satisfied.”
“It’s training,” he adds, “and after training, it’s more training.”