Recently I attended an OSHA Ten Safety Training Seminar and was reminded again, of how dangerous the agricultural occupation is. It does not take much effort for anyone involved in the agricultural industry to be able to think of someone who has either been injured or even worse killed in an agricultural related accident.

With that said… it got me thinking back to training I had received to be a certified ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) trainer back in the early 1990’s. At that training we learned how to engage our mind to be constantly scanning the environment for situations that could put us in harms-way as we rode our ATV’s. This process often taught while utilizing motorized vehicles went by the acronym S.I.P.D.E. Each letter stands for the following thought process: S=scan, I=identify, P=predict, D=decide, and E=execute. It is something that once embedded in our minds becomes second nature to an individual. The following is an example of this process applied to those who work in agriculture.

Scenario: A ranch employee has the task of bringing cattle up to the holding pen to be processed. Within the pen of cattle there are approximately 50 head of cattle and also one bull for cleanup breeding purposes. Cognitively he or she would apply S.I.P.D.E. in the following manner given that scenario.

  • S-scan: The employee would scan both visually and auditory to observe the cattle behavior.
  • I-identify: The employee would identify the location of the cattle and the bull along with any possible escape routes in relation to the employee’s present location. In addition, they would also take note of the cattle’s present temperament. Are they calm or irritated?
  • P-predict: Given the cattle’s current behavior the employee could predict what may or may not happen, deciding if extra caution is warranted while handling the animals.
  • D-decide: If the cattle and bull are behaving normally the decision would be made to proceed to move the animals towards the holding pen in a calm manner. If the animals are behaving in an irritated manner, the employee would decide to utilize a more cautious approach to livestock handling.
  • E-execute: If the cattle and bull are behaving normally, the person would move the cattle in a normal, calm manner towards the holding pen. However, if a cow or bull is noticeably irritated then the person would want to remove the animal from the pen and/or farm.

Teaching yourself, your family members and employees this cognitive thinking method to be utilized in daily life will help to reduce potential accidents occurring as we continue to work in an environment that often has many hazards.

Editor's note: Terminology has slightly been revised to fit a cattle ranching operation instead of a dairy farm.