I’ve never driven a tractor, a tanker or any type of equipment used for hauling manure. In fact, I’ve never even driven a pickup truck – I’m a small car driver. But I did grow up in snowy Northeastern Ontario. A couple years ago, on a wintry trip home, I remembered the advice I was given as a young driver: there are two stops there. The first is at the stop sign. Then, you pull forward and stop a second time so you can actually see around the snowbank.
Recently on a mid-winter trip home, I remembered why I’d been taught that routine: after I stopped and began to pull forward, around the snowbank I immediately saw not one but several sets of headlights zooming in my direction. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to find the muscle memory of the second stop, and to harness the patience that comes with driving in a more rural area – it’s a world away from city driving.
Besides the written rules, there’s always a whole series of unwritten rules we must follow to stay safe.
Safety is non-negotiable. And when safety measures are in place on the job, it becomes even more imperative that we adhere to those measures. Routine, experience and a need to get the job done as efficiently as possible might drive us to skip the occasional step or to convince ourselves of things that are not true. “I’m not that tired.” “I can just check my maps app.”
To put it frankly, the job does not get done if you are no longer around to do it.
People in all industries experience burnout, stress and risk related to that burnout and stress. However, not all industries involve work with large, heavy and potentially dangerous equipment.
Our agricultural workers are as valuable as what they produce – not just because they are workers, but because they are people – colleagues, friends, sons and daughters, parents, siblings and partners. Every time you get out to take a walk around your vehicle and get some fresh air, take your vehicle in for maintenance or complete a list of safety checks, you are investing in your own future.
And, for people like me who aren’t hauling manure, livestock and equipment on a daily basis, we need to remember that we share the road. Passing an oversized load to get to our destination a few minutes quicker – versus waiting until an appropriate and safe place to pass – often is not worth it.
While this issue is about safety, in many ways it is also about journeys. Yes, there’s road safety, but there’s also the topic of manure sheds and the complexity of moving manure (page 10). There’s also the journeys upon which we embark as people – like the journey Gleise M. Silva took to Alberta to share her expertise in beef cattle health with the local industry (page 8).
Remember, whether we’re adjusting to new settings or perfecting our day-to-day routine, it never hurts to check in and ensure that you’re doing everything in the safest way possible, ensuring longevity for your equipment, your product and – your most valuable asset – yourself. The industry is better with you in it •