Equitable Food Initiative Celebrates 2023 National Safety Month; LeAnne Ruzzamenti Comments
WASHINGTON, DC - Happy National Safety Month, y’all! Now is the time to shine a spotlight on worker safety in the produce industry, which is exactly what the team is doing at Equitable Food Initiative (EFI). The organization is encouraging grower-shippers to prioritize worker engagement to drive safety and improve the bottom line.
“Workers are on the front lines, so they are the ones who know where policies might be getting overlooked or corners cut in ways that could lead to injury,” commented LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Director of Marketing and Communications. “They are also best positioned to offer suggestions to make the workplace safer.”
The National Safety Council named June as National Safety Month in 1996. The total cost of work injuries in 2021 was reportedly $167 billion with a cost per worker of $1,080. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 100 farm-related accidents result in injury every day.
EFI is focusing on National Safety Month to underscore the opportunity to engage the 2.6 million United States-based farmworkers in strategies to increase safety, drive efficiencies, and boost retention and recruitment. According to a press release, studies have found that engaged workers deliver better customer service and quality, drive productivity and cost reductions, and reduce injuries.
EFI-certified farming teams have improved lighting in parking lots, access to drinking water, traffic flows and speed, ladder design, tractor use in the fields, air circulation in the packhouse, COVID protocols, and sanitation. Teams also create repetitive motion injury prevention plans that introduce exercises and stretches.
“One of the easiest ways to begin engaging employees is to integrate worker voice into business improvements—whether regarding safety, productivity, or quality,” Ruzzamenti added. “The hard part follows, where management must build trust by responding to and acting on worker suggestions and maintaining open and collaborative communication across the operation.”
How will you be celebrating workplace safety this month? We can’t wait to find out.