Farm Progress

Will-O-Crest Farms earns award for safetyWill-O-Crest Farms earns award for safety

NYS Ag Society’s 2017 Farm Safety Award winner is Will-O-Crest Farms for its investment and focus on safety as a least-cost approach.

Kara Lynn Dunn

December 28, 2016

4 Min Read

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration started random unannounced Local Emphasis Program safety inspections of New York dairy farms in 2014, Will-O-Crest Farms was already way ahead of the curve. It had proactively invested in safety protocols years before.

Even so, it was a huge undertaking for this 1,300-cow dairy with 35 employees, 3,500 acres of crops and a myriad of equipment, plus animal care at three sites. Attention to all those details earned this Clifton Springs farm the New York State Agricultural Society’s 2017 Farm Safety Award. The award will be presented at January’s Ag Society meeting.

Every morning, Will-O-Crest farm partner Bill Young walks the operation, watching for anything that might need fixing or require safety equipment, training or retraining. “Addressing hazards before someone gets hurt is less expensive in the long run,” he reasons. “The costs of an accident are greater than the cost of prevention.”

That’s confirmed by an OSHA Office of Regulatory Analysis report: “… evidence suggests that companies [of all types] implementing effective safety and health can expect reductions of 20% or greater in their injury and illness rates and a return of $4 to $6 for every $1 invested.”

Young addresses issues on the spot or brings them to the attention of Bruce Hausman, the farm’s safety officer. Electrical equipment was a key focus for Hausman upon arriving at Will-O-Crest for a second career after 37 years with Kodak.

More than a mindset
“We added lockouts in several locations to keep someone from unknowingly flipping a switch that would energize equipment, like an auger, while someone’s working on it,” explains Hausman. Individual personal protective equipment lockers were a worthwhile investment, he adds. “The equipment is there when they need it, and they’re the only one using their respirator.”

Hausman wrote Will-O-Crest’s Hazard Communication Plan, and created spreadsheet templates for keeping records of inspection of structures, vehicles, fire extinguishers and first aid kits, plus annual safety walkthroughs. That plan includes periodic employee training with the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, a division of Bassett Healthcare Network.

NYCAMH’s confidential and free on-farm survey scouts for hazards and potential risks. By appointment, Ag Safety Specialist Jim Carrabba covers priorities and recordkeeping with farm personnel. Then, depending on the business infrastructure, a survey may take three to four hours.

“Jim brings expertise plus valuable experience with how farms elsewhere have addressed similar challenges — often with easily implemented, cost-effective solutions,” Hausman notes. “Photos also are a powerful educational tool at safety committee meetings to help everyone be more aware.”

Necessity mothered invention
OSHA’s LEP program came with potential for stiff fines and public notices levied for safety violations. It was “a prompt for farms to give attention to opportunities to improve the working environment,” reflects Hausman. “Everyone here more frequently notices issues we’ve walked by any number of times and not ‘seen’ — such as a half-guarded compressor drive belt and a propane tank in a high-traffic area in need of a barrier.

“We treat our safety list as a living document and are constantly making improvements. Our OSHA-focused list almost always mirrors the farm’s Workmen’s Compensation inspection requirements.” And, he hopes becoming more aware of farm hazards may also be helping Will-O-Crest employees make their own homes and families safer.

With New York Farm Viability Institute funding, NYCAMH developed OSHA-approved policy templates for the “dairy dozen” key hazard areas. “That increased our ability to help farms prepare for the possibility of a formal inspection,” says Carrabba.

NYCAMH will continue to offer safety walkthroughs to farms of all sizes. “Things like the weather, pests and prices are out of a farmer’s control,” acknowledges the NYCAMH safety expert. “But safety is an area where we can take measures to prevent harm, injuries, fatalities, and lost time and productivity, and reduce workers’ compensation claims and costs.”

Got questions? Carrabba can be reached at 800-343-7527, ext. 2216, or by email at [email protected]. Or visit NYCAMH’s exhibit at New York Farm Show, Feb. 23, 24 and 25.

Dunn writes from Mannsville, N.Y.


Safety tips from the experts

Farm safety officer Bruce Hausman shares six common problems and simple solutions:

• Replace power cord receptacles in need of new plugs.
• Make sure compressed air hoses have proper hose clamps.
• Attach covers on low-hanging fluorescent light tubes with inexpensive bulb protectors.
• Immediately move a power washer parked too close to an electrical panel.
• Install fall hazard signage and double grating over 18-inch-wide manure push channels.
• Set 4-foot T-walls end to end as a fall hazard barrier along the sides of older concrete silage bunkers.

Consider these recommendations from safety expert Jim Carrabbas:
• Conduct a safety inspection every year, and immediately address critical concerns.
• Develop a safety and hazard communication plan.
• Provide proper personal protective equipment for workers and rollover protection structures for tractors.
• Properly guard all drop-off areas with railings and/or barriers.
• Provide complete guards and shields for all power takeoffs and equipment hazards.
• Involve every person on the farm in safety awareness and for reporting concerns.
• Larger farms should have a dedicated safety officer.
• Conduct regular safety meetings and training.

NYFVI is a farmer-led nonprofit that invests in innovative projects to increase the success of ag production enterprises, protect farm-based natural resources and produce measurable farm-level results. Visit for more information.

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