Farms across Canada vary in size, what they produce and how many people they employ. But like all other workplaces, there are inherent on-the-job safety hazards that need to be addressed in order to prevent injuries and save lives.
Agriculture ranks as the fourth-most hazardous industry in Canada, with 12.9 deaths per 100,000 farm population. From 1990 to 2008, an average of 104 people died every year from agricultural incidents in Canada, according to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program.
Along with the human cost, unintentional injuries have significant financial implications that total approximately $374 million each year. These unintentional injuries are the result of incidents such as motor vehicle collisions, entanglements with farm machinery, and rollovers.
Unintentional injuries are preventable injuries. The right attitude toward safety and the right training saves lives.
This Agricultural Safety Week, the Canada Safety Council encourages all farm operators and employees to seek proper training to ensure the safe operation of all vehicles and machinery on the farm.
The farming environment
Farms are more than just work sites; they are places where people of all ages live and play. Children grow up contributing to the family’s farming operation, while many seasoned farmers never officially retire and continue working well into their golden years. For many, farming is more than a job — it is a way of life.
A big part of this lifestyle involves the operation of machinery — everything from trucks to tractors, combines, ATVs, ARGOs and snowmobiles. Sadly, 70 per cent of agricultural fatalities involve machines.
The right training, including refresher courses and regular conversations about the safe operation of machinery, can equip farm workers, visitors and those who live on farms with life-saving information and a safety-first attitude.
• Teach children safety fundamentals. This includes clearly identifying where farm machinery and vehicles are operated, and where they may not play. Children need to develop a healthy respect for the potential dangers of being near a moving machine or vehicle, and learn how to stay safe.
• If you are the owner/operator of a farm, clearly communicate to your staff that risk-taking involving machinery or vehicles is not allowed or tolerated. Your employees should understand that you expect them to always operate in a safe manner. This includes no speeding and no impaired or distracted driving.
• Make sure operators are competent, confident and capable when it comes to using machinery. If additional training or instruction is necessary, make safety the priority. Take the time to read manuals, ask questions and consult industry experts who can give you answers.
The Canada Safety Council offers the following safety training courses that may be of interest to farm operators and employees:
• ARGO Operator Course
• ATV Rider Course
• Confined Spaces Training Course
• Ladder Safety Training Course
• Snowmobile Operators Course
• Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) Side by Side Course
• WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) Training Course
Take the time to get the training you need to stay safe on the farm. It’s an investment in safety with a lifetime of benefits.
» Canada Safety Council