Agriculture is one of Saskatchewan’s largest and most hazardous industries. Incidents occur more often between seeding and harvest, and can cause needless suffering and consequently reduce farm revenues.
On average, 13 people are killed on Saskatchewan farms each year. Of these fatal injuries, 75% involve machinery such as grain trucks, semis, tractors and combines. Most incidents occur in the farm yard and of all serious injuries that happen, 14% involve youth.
(Statistics provided by the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Surveillance Program at the University of Saskatchewan.)
Everyone can do their part to help make Saskatchewan farms safer. Some tips to remember while farming include:
- Be sure to replace all guards and shields following maintenance and repairs. A few extra minutes might save your life or a limb.
- Watch for overhead lines when moving equipment, augers, bins, and when loading grain trucks and semis.
- Ensure employees and others helping on the farm are properly trained.
- Change jobs periodically or take a short walk to help you stay focused.
- If youth are recruited to help with farming, make sure the activities are age appropriate and the youth are properly trained and supervised.
Responsibilities on the Farm for Employers and Employees
If you are a farmer, you are not exempt from Saskatchewan’s health and safety laws. The Saskatchewan Employment Act (Act) covers the health and safety of both farmers and farm workers, especially where an employer-employee relationship exists.
As a farmer or farm operator who employs farm workers, you must:
- Provide a safe working environment for the worker.
- Provide orientation to:
- Location of first aid supplies
- Fire and emergency procedures
- Prohibited or restricted areas
- Chemical and physical hazards
- Ensure that each worker understands and complies with the provisions of the Act and regulations that apply to the work being done.
- Ensure that workers know their rights under the legislation:
- The right to know
- The right to participate
- The right to refuse
- Provide hazard information - ensure that the worker understands the potential hazards, and the precautions that must be taken to avoid injury or illness associated with their daily work tasks.
- Ensure that training for workers includes:
- Knowledge about workplace hazards and any other information needed to keep them safe
- An explanation of safe work procedures and a practical demonstration by the worker to show that they have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills
- Supervise the worker. This means monitoring the worker's activities to ensure s/he is working safely and being available to assist and answer any questions. Usually more supervision is needed when a worker is undertaking new or hazardous tasks.
- Identify who the supervisor is (e.g., If multiple family members are involved in the farming operation, who does the worker answer to?).
- Inform the worker of their own responsibility to follow safe work practices, use the safety equipment provided and bring any unsafe condition(s) or equipment to the attention of the employer.
- Keep in place and maintain all safety shields, safety latches and safety devices.
- Discuss safe work practices (the how and why) for each work-related activity.
- Openly discuss work practices, remain open for questions and acknowledge suggestions for improvement from a worker.
- Supply personal protective equipment (PPE), and instruct the worker about the requirement to wear PPE and how to correctly use and maintain it.
- Discuss safe handling of chemicals and controlled products.
- Report fatal incidents, serious injuries and dangerous occurrences to the Occupational Health and Safety Division. Consider insurance coverage (Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) or private insurance).
- Farm Workers
A farm worker:
- Must cooperate with the employer to ensure employer's health and safety responsibilities are fulfilled.
- Must conduct him/herself in a safe and responsible manner at work.
- Has the right to refuse any work they believe is unusually dangerous to him/herself or others.
- Must use the safeguards, safety appliances and personal protective equipment (PPE) or devices provided pursuant to the Act and The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996.
- Must bring health and safety concerns to the farmer's attention.
- Should ask for a tour of the farm prior to commencing work.
- Should clearly understand who their supervisor is (e.g., If multiple family members are involved in the farming operation, who does the worker answer to?).
- Should ask questions to ensure they understand safe work procedures before proceeding and ask what PPE is required.
- Should clearly understand the communication plan (e.g., work progress checks, employer assistance and availability).
- May ask if the employer has insurance coverage.
General Farm Safety Information
- The Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety’s Farm Safety Program provides advice about training, clarifies employer and worker roles and responsibilities, and identifies common workplace hazards on the farm. You can also download the Farm Safety Poster and display it within your workplace.
- The Canadian Agriculture Safety Association.
- The Agriculture Health and Safety Network.
- The Saskatchewan Safety Council including their free, online Agriculture Training System (OATS).
- AgSafe Week.
- United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive.
- The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides a wide range of information relating to health and safety in the workplace. Some topics farmers may be interested in include: Hantavirus, Farmer’s Lung, Avian Influenza, tractor road operation, using pesticides, occupational exposures to cancers, and health and safety for farmers.
Children on the Farm
Visit Canada Safety Council for information specific to children on the farm.
You may be interested in the information the Occupational Health and Safety Division provides about working outdoors.
Business and Industry
Farmers, producers, ranchers, and agriculture businesses may be interested in information on crops and marketing options, land, livestock, and business management, including new knowledge, skills, and innovations.
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