Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Keeping those who support agriculture safe on the job

Jason Gambill 
WSDA Western Washington Safety Officer

For many WSDA employees, supporting Washington agriculture means spending time out of the office and in the field. So to make sure our employees are safe, WSDA’s safety team has begun a new campaign we call “The day in the life of a WSDA employee.”  

As part of the campaign, agency safety officers are shadowing supervisors and field employees to learn more about their work and safety concerns while offering ways to improve their safety and championing best practices about workplace safety.

Feed inspector Angela Gantuah collecting samples.
Through this new initiative, I recently joined Angela Gantuah, a feed specialist in WSDA’s Food Safety and Consumer Services Division, during a routine inspection of a busy Bellingham chicken feed processing plant.

Traffic collisions are a common factor in workplace injuries, as are tripping hazards like pallets and being struck by objects, like forklifts. Angela and I discussed these hazards, and her strategies for staying safe.

Angela took several samples from peas, fish meal, wheat and other commodities to test for Salmonella and other diseases. Some of her samples were taken from an auger, which was amazing to watch, but can also be a serious workplace hazard. Care has to be taken when working around augers. Again, I discussed this with Angela and offered some tips on keeping safe.

Our agency inspections are essential to the agricultural way of life. Producers require our various inspections in order to export their products to overseas markets. It's my team's job to make sure our inspectors are safe while doing their jobs.

In fact, our team’s motto is “Their Safety Matters.”  I will be shadowing other employees throughout the coming year, playing my part to support WSDA’s staff as they support Washington agriculture.