Farmers Need to Get with the Plan!

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Agriculture is a very dangerous industry. According to Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting, 1,769 farm-related deaths occurred between 1990 and 2005. And from April 1990 to March 2000, 12,305 males and 2,525 females were admitted to the hospital due to agricultural injuries. In addition, farming may be particularly hazardous for older workers.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, which is March 10-16, 2013, is intended to shine the spotlight on health and safety issues in this industry. This year’s theme is Get with the Plan! and is intended to encourage farmers to develop their own written health and safety plans. Why?

According to a recent survey, although 85% of Canadian producers believe safety is a priority on their farm or ranch, only 9% have a written agricultural safety plan.

Written safety plans help farmers identify hazards on the farm and control them by:

  • Developing standard operating procedures
  • Putting in place systems for communicating safety-related responsibilities
  • Outlining emergency actions
  • Conducting training
  • Investigating incidents
  • Monitoring the farm for future hazards.

To get farmers started on their own plans, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) developed the Canada FarmSafe Plan, which outlines the steps needed to implement effective farm health and safety practices.

Unfortunately, the OHS laws don’t reflect the reality of the hazards in farming. Although most jurisdictions’ OHS laws technically apply to farms, they don’t specifically address the safety issues and hazards unique to this industry.

ON and PEI only applied their OHS laws to farms in the last few years, while Alberta basically doesn’t regulate farm safety at all. In fact, Alberta Agriculture announced that it’s not even going to report farm fatalities anymore.

At OHS Insider, you can download this checklist to assess any safety hazards on your farm, identify the corrective actions needed to be taken to address those hazards and document the completion of those actions.

Watch this video to learn about the importance of rollover protective structures and seatbelts when operating tractors.

And go to Safety Smart for agriculture-related training tools, including videos, safety talks, articles and e-learning courses. Not a subscriber to SafetySmart? Sign up for a free trial.