COLUMBUS, Ohio –When Mother Nature or natural disasters strike a u-pick operation, it’s important for farm operators to react fast and know how to handle the panic of visitors, says an Ohio State University Extension expert.
If farm markets employees get caught in a sudden summer lightning storm or high wind event, it’s important they know how to properly secure their products and shelter in place, said Dee Jepsen, an OSU Extension safety specialist.
Many farms have started incorporating markets, u-pick operations and agritainment activities into their business plan, she said.
“However, when the public is involved in the farm environment, it is even more important for safety and emergency practices to be in place,” Jepsen said. “Having a plan, and knowing how to react when an emergency strikes, is important for everyone in the business.”
Jepsen will talk about this and more during the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, a free conference sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, March 27-29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Jepsen and Peggy Kirk Hall, an OSU Extension specialist agricultural and resource law, will hold a panel discussion on the issues during the conference’s Agricultural Safety track on March 29.
The conference will also feature more than 150 educational sessions and a marketplace that showcases safety products and services by more than 200 vendors, Jepsen said.
One of the goals of her presentation is to highlight the little things that get overlooked in emergency planning, she said. Businesses should always have fire extinguishers, first aid kits and emergency contact numbers on hand. And businesses need to be aware of other safety issues, such as including signs and fencing around ponds to keep visitors away from drowning hazards.
“Foodborne illnesses may also be a problem for many of these markets and agricultural events,” Jepsen said. “Knowing how to respond to an allergic outbreak or seek treatment for bee stings can be health issues that employees are not prepared to handle.”
Another topic offered at the conference concerns agricultural equipment on public roads.
“This is a hot topic no matter the farm season,” she said. “When farmers share the roads with the motoring public, it is important for them to understand certain provisions within the Ohio Revised Code.
“It is their responsibility to meet lighting and marking guidelines, and abide by the length and width rules set for Ohio’s country roads.”
For more information on the 2012 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, go to www.ohiobwc.com or call 1-800-OHIOBWC.