Training program aims to create safer conditions for Idaho's dairy workers

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jan 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-05 20:28:06-05

Idaho's dairy farm workers are now receiving certificates after completing a new workplace safety program.

"I mean they really view it as, like you and i would view a diploma," said Rick Naerebout, CEO of Idaho Dairymen's Association.

With a workforce that is 90 percent foreign-born, he says many farm workers in the program didn't have the same educational opportunities growing up.

"We had one worker receive the wrong certificate, and he chased down our trainer and say, 'Gey! I got the wrong certificate. This isn't my name-- can you get me the one with my right name on it?"

And the pride in their accomplishment-- he says-- show in moments like these.

"That they really appreciate ya know somebody taking the time out of the day to help educate them and help improve them and improve their safety."

Safety-- after all-- is what it's about. Idaho Dairymen's Association's free new service brings 20 iPads to the farm to train up to 20 workers at a time.

"And we've got a bilingual staff person, it's its very important that you're able to communicate with the workers in their native language."

Most fatalities on dairy farms-- he says-- are a result of cow-and-worker interactions. This program aims to lessen those instances.

"And to understand how the cow thinks and how she's gonna respond to your movements is important, because, again, she's 1400 pounds. If she steps on you, it hurts."

He says training videos will help workers understand the importance of what they do. For instance, with prepping...

"The video can explain-- well that's in the interest in milk-quality-- and make sure that we don't introduce any bacteria into the teet end or into the milk supply."

For this reason, he says the program is a win-win for both the worker and the consumer-- for the largest agricultural industry in the state of Idaho.

To learn more, call Idaho Dairymen's Association at (208) 736-1953. You can also visit their website at