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Farm Family Safety and Health Workshop  Revised edition

Farm & Ranch Safety Inventory

Editor's Note

This "Farm & Ranch Safety Inventory" is included in the Leader's Guide for your information in case you would like to incorporate a discussion of conducting a safety inventory in a workshop. You are free to reproduce the inventory for use in your program, or bulk copies can be obtained for a small charge from the

Agricultural Safety and Health Program
1146 AGEN, Purdue University,
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1146


The typical farmstead contains dozens of hazards or dangers. Too often, we may take a hazardous situation for granted because "that's just the way it's always been." Or we simply may not recognize potential hazards. A common example of an "unrecognized hazard" is a large tractor tire leaning against the side of a building. There have been several cases of small children being injured or killed while playing or hiding behind leaning tires.

How do we proceed to eliminate potential hazards? First and foremost, we must identify the hazards. The following "Farm & Ranch Safety Inventory" was designed by Extension safety specialists at Purdue University to help reveal potential hazards on your farm. Completing the inventory will help identify many hazards that could be a source of injury to you or members of your family.

Completing the Inventory

To be most successful, you should set aside 2 to 3 hours when the whole family can participate in this "hazard hunt." Youth will enjoy this activity, and can always be counted on to provide unique perspectives and opinions. The inventory is divided into sections representing various areas or activities on the farm, allowing a systematic approach to the activity. One family member should be designated as the "clerk" to make note of hazards that are found. If possible, photocopy the inventory and give copies to your family members, or discuss the inventory beforehand to allow your family to get an idea of what to look for during the search. As you complete the inventory, check the "OK" box for each item you find acceptable. If a listed item is not applicable, write "NA" as the potential hazard. If you find one of the potential hazards listed on the form (and you will most likely find many), describe the problem in the space provided.

It is a good idea to bring some extra sheets of paper to record items that might not be listed on the form. Although the inventory covers a wide variety of potential hazards, there is no way to anticipate every possibility. You might be able to photograph the more serious hazards and paste them on your refrigerator as a reminder to correct them.

Don't be discouraged as you complete the inventory. You could find dozens of problems. Record everything you find, no matter how large or small the problem. Remember, the purpose here is to locate as many hazards as possible. We must first recognize a problem before we can find a solution.

Organizing Your Findings

Once you and your family have completed the inventory, you will probably have identified a long list of potential hazards, and be wondering "OK, now what?" Begin the "analysis" part of this exercise by using the included form to rewrite your list of potential hazards.

Once you have rewritten your list of hazards, you can begin to formulate solutions. Be practical when developing these solutions. For example you will probably be more inclined to apply some fluorescent tape and a warning sign above a low-clearance doorway than you will be to tear out the door and make it taller. Also keep in mind that there will be some hazards that will never be completely eliminated. Do your best to devise solutions that will minimize the risk to you, your family, and your employees.

Categorizing Your Solutions

Now that you have a list of problems and solutions, you should begin to categorize your solutions. Most likely, the major considerations in implementing your solutions will be the expense and "hardship" involved. Using your list of problems and solutions, rank each as

  • Easy (E)
  • Moderate (M)
  • Difficult (D)

to accomplish.

Prioritizing Your Solutions

After categorizing your solutions according to difficulty or expense, enter each on the appropriate forms (extra forms may be needed). For each list, determine which of the solutions is most important. Situations presenting serious risk of injury to your family should be given the highest priority. Rank each solution as

  • High (H)
  • Medium (M)
  • Low (L)

priority. Then assign a target date for implementing solutions that eliminate or minimize the hazard.

Reducing hazards on your farm will not be an overnight process. Take time to develop solutions and set target dates that are realistic. For simple tasks, or particularly hazardous situations, such as a missing PTO guard, set a completion date in the near future and get the problem solved. Other solutions, especially very expensive ones or those requiring significant changes to the farmstead, may have a target completion date that is months or even years in the future.

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Last updated: 18-May-2006 11:08 AM