Conference teaches emergency management for farm markets and agritainment operations
When natural disasters strike farm markets or u-pick operations, it's important for farm operators to have emergency procedures in place, says an Ohio State University Extension expert.
The Ohio Safety Congress and Expo, running today (March 27) through Thursday (March 29) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, will address just that. The conference is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
When Mother Nature strikes a u-pick operation, it's important for farm operators to react quickly and know how to handle the panic of visitors, said Dee Jepsen, an OSU Extension safety specialist. If farm market 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.
Many farms have started incorporating markets, u-pick operations and agritainment activities into their business plans, Jepsen said. But that may not be enough.
"When the public is involved in the farm environment, it is even more important for safety and emergency practices to be in place," she 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 a presentation at the safety conference. She and Peggy Kirk Hall, an OSU Extension specialist agricultural and resource law, also will hold a panel discussion on the issues during the conference's Agricultural Safety track on March 29.
Also being featured are more than 150 educational sessions and a marketplace that showcases safety products and services by more than 200 vendors.
One of the goals of Jepsen's 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 business operators 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 might 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 http://www.ohiobwc.com or call 1-800-OHIOBWC.