Bilingual Dairy Farm Safety Grant Project Encourages Positive Changes on Regionís Dairy Farms

Name and Position/Title: 
Chris Mondak, Dairy Field Specialist

Fiscal Year Submitted:

POW Title and Number
110  Dairy

Bilingual Dairy Farm Safety Grant Project Encourages Positive Changes on Region’s Dairy Farms

The I-29 region including South Dakota, western Minnesota, NW Iowa, and eastern Nebraska has recently seen much growth in number and size of dairy farms.  As farms expanded beyond capacity of family labor work force, or started up as large herd farms, there was increasing need for hired non-family labor.  For much of the time between 1998 and 2009, local labor force could not meet the need for dairy farm employees, and therefore dairy owners met their workforce needs by hiring immigrant workers, typically from Mexico or Central America.

Dairy owners in the region frequently stated their general satisfaction with the performance of their Hispanic employees, but also frequently expressed frustration about difficulty to achieve good communication about dairy protocols and work procedures due to the language barrier.  Farming is a high-safety risk occupation, and language barrier issues potentially increase risk of accidents and injury.  This fact, coupled with dairy owners’ request for employee safety workshops in Spanish, led university extension educators to prepare a grant proposal to develop and deliver farm safety education workshops and materials to the dairy farm owners and employees in the four-state I-29 Dairy region.

The RME-Farm Safety Project – “A Farm Safety Training Program on Human Risk Management for Dairy Producers and Hispanic Employees” was designed to accomplish 2 goals:

  1. Increase dairy owners’ and dairy employees’ knowledge and awareness about safety risks, safe work practices, and resources for farm safety and worker well-being.
  2. Inform and encourage dairy owners to create a “culture of safety” on their dairy farms as part of daily dairy farm operations.

During Spring and Summer 2009, nearly 620 dairy workers and owners in the region participated in dairy farm safety at worksites and workshops.  New materials for dairy owners, employees, and dairy educators were also developed that includes ppt overview of Safety Risks on Dairy Farms, Sample dairy farm Safety Manual, Guidelines to dairy owners on creating a farm safety manual and Fact Sheet about formaldehyde dairy cow foot baths

In the Dairy Farm Safety Project, post-project evaluations measured increased awareness and knowledge about safety practices on dairy farms, and many dairy owners implemented specific changes such as installing first aid kits and eye wash stations, posting safety signs, modifying chemical storage and use, creating or improving safety protocols and safety training checklists.

An unexpected outcome of this project is that it resulted in an invitation from High Plains Center for Agricultural Safety at Colorado State University to attend an Ag Safety Seminar.   I accompanied 2 colleagues from the I-29 Consortium.  As a result, our I-29 group expanded our network of partners, learned about additional topics and resources, and has been awarded a grant to present a second series of on-farm workshops in the I-29 region on the topic of dairy farm occupational health and safety.


110 Dairy


Page last updated: May 5, 2010
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