Turning a Plan Into Action

This section is meant to give you tools for your emergency preparedness tool box that will help your team be on the same page and communicate effectively during an emergency. "Tool Box Talks” are a great way to break down the learning and ensure that your team stays up to date on farm safety procedures.


Toolbox talks should be an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. Talks should be done daily or weekly to promote a culture of safety on the farm, depending on the number of farm workers and safety requirements on your farm. 

At least once a year, formally discuss emergency plans and ensure everyone knows farm response procedures.  Consider running drills or scenarios to practise the essential actions you need to take during an incident.

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Introduction to Your Farm Safety Areas of Concern

Each farm is unique and may have different demands or requirements based on regulations or specific equipment training. This information is not exhaustive and is meant to be a starter for a more detailed HR onboarding plan suited to your circumstances. 

This Checklist has many more areas of review in one simple place. Use it as you walk through your new employee orientation, or for reviewing with existing employees and family members.

You can also make it fun. After walking through various safety items, task the employee with a “treasure hunt” for several of them such as the gas shut off valve, the fire extinguisher, etc.

At minimum, your Onboarding Checklist and Plan should include:

  • A tour of the property using a detailed map with all important details such as location of phones, first aid kits, washrooms and sanitation, where there is/isn’t cell phone reception on the farm, gas/water or other shut off points etc.
  • An introduction to the safety policies and procedures including the individual plans outlined in the completed Emergency Binder, use of safety equipment for things such as safe chemical handling, safe operation of equipment and more.
  • A review of any machinery, equipment or vehicles that will be used while they are working on the farm. Make this as specific to your operation as possible by adding in more items to review where needed.
  • The opportunity to ask questions, clarify any issues, or practise using the equipment while being monitored.

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How Do I Get Everyone on Board?

A great approach is using the 4 Cs of Employee Onboarding:

Compliance will come from creating a supportive work environment where people get the information they need, in a format that works for them.  Ensure that they receive the tools and training needed to perform their job. Training on the animal welfare, code of practice, health and safety measures as well as biosecurity are taught and complied with.

Connection for the new hire this will happen when they feel part of a team and start contributing to the farm’s success.

Clarity happens for the new hire when understanding of the job is expanded. Clarify performance expectations, and responsibilities. Consider sharing written, visual and verbal instructions. Have the employee see you do the task first, then repeat it for themselves, and then observe them completing the task at a later time to ensure good comprehension.  

Culture on your farm will be learned through spoken and unspoken behaviour within your operations.  Learning to work within the farm’s norms will allow for success for employees and family members. As the farm owner, adhering to good animal welfare and biosecurity will create a culture of safety for all who work on the farm.

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Onboarding Schedule


The Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates health and safety training for an employer with more than five employees. There must be a written occupational health and safety policy and a program to implement that policy.

Farm owners with employees (including family) must know and understand the appropriate regulations related to safely training and managing employees. This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage you to add your own requirements where needed.

Onboarding Schedule

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During the first week of work: 

  • Review of role and responsibilities;
  • Complete employee emergency contact form;
  • Introduce to key people;
  • Tour of Property, review the evacuation route, shelter in place;
  • Standard operating procedures for all essential areas of focus and the safe use of tools, machinery used to perform job;
  • Fit testing for face masks/respirators other health and safety equipment (gloves, booties, etc.);
  • Identify personal hazards of job;
  • Introduction to general health and safety policies, safety videos or demonstrations to show use of equipment directly relevant to their job; and
  • General emergency plan and procedures.


Within three months:

Recognize animal stress, and adherence to animal welfare and codes of practice. Poultry Pro online training is an excellent way to assist poultry workers to get a baseline of information.

 Use of emergency equipment:

  • How to turn off powered equipment;
  • Stop flow of liquids and gas lines;
  • Location and use of fire extinguishers;
  • Use of absorbents;
  • Starting generators and monthly check ups;
  • First aid training and location of first aid kits;
  • Chainsaw safety for downed trees;
  • How to conduct maintenance checks on machinery;

Other areas:

  • If applicable, how to test the internal temperature of stored hay/straw;
  • Increased Biosecurity awareness, cleaning and sanitation;
  • Increased awareness of Animal welfare, code of practice;
  • Euthanasia methods and dead stock disposal;
  • Increase First Aid training;
  • Hazard / incident / accident reporting; and
  • Site farm emergency procedures and access to documents and employee assistance program.


Within Six Months of Work

Test safety and emergency preparedness responses.

Ensure equipment or training specific to the role is in place. If applicable, consider training for:

  • Forklift training;
  • Grower Pesticide Safety Course;
  • PTO safety;
  • Skid steer safety;
  • Mechanical hazards;
  • Manure safety;
  • WHIMS;
  • Workshop safety; and
  • Operation specific safety areas (e.g. egg packing house)


Within twelve months of work: 

  • Demonstrate excellent biosecurity principles and emergency protocols awareness; and
  • Be a good steward for farm culture safety.

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Best Practises for Conducting Team Training

Safe Guards to Consider with Employees

Ensure all staff sign an animal welfare code of conduct. Keep a copy in the employee’s file and ensure the filing cabinet is locked so information cannot be extracted from the file without your knowledge. Consider having employees review and sign the code annually. Consider a policy that staff are not to discuss employer specific information on social media; this could be included in a confidentiality policy.

When Hiring New Employees:

  • Take the time to check references prior to hire;
  • Look for gaps in service on applicants’ resumes;
  • Check the candidate’s social media and networking activity. There are also companies that will perform this service for you;
  • Consider including a clause that the use of phones and other recording devices are not allowed on your farm without permission to respect the privacy of farm owners and other employees;
  • Be aware of new employees who are excessively curious about operations that are not within their job descriptions; and
  • Encourage long-term employees who are overly questioned about animal handling, care etc. to tell you about these encounters.

Have any visitors and subcontractors  sign an animal welfare declaration found in My Farm app.

Ensure all employees are aware of your policies relating to animal welfare and dealing with animal activists.

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