Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in Canada, with more than 85 fatalities in an average year, according to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.
And because farming is often a family endeavor, sometimes children are among those injured or even killed on the farm. Importantly, farmers have tremendous power to improve safety on a daily basis. Glen Blahey, an agricultural health and safety specialist with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, says growers should consider human impacts and business risk management when they think about safety. “Work related injuries and illnesses cost money,” Blahey says. “They cost productivity. They cost efficiency. They cost credibility in the community.”
Make safety a daily task
Blahey encourages every grower to make safety a daily practice, just like other regular routines on the farm. Safety checks and instructions should be something you do every day.
Conduct a safety audit to build your plan
Each farm should put together its own safety plan based on its individual needs. Bonita Hus of the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture helps growers put together a safety checklist and audit to ensure the safety of all farm staff.
“The audit is a good reminder of what you already know,” Hus says. “Collecting that information, then reviewing it with family and workers helps guard against complacency. It’s part of practicing due diligence.”
Share the value of regular reminders with your farm’s whole team. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande explains why surgeons and pilots count on checklists for safety, and how they can help you, too.
Create a safety plan during harvest
Remind workers about the basics daily
Hus recommends having regular — even daily — safety talks to protect workers and the business. It may seem simple to remind everyone where fire extinguishers are located, or when it’s OK (and when it’s dangerous) to use a cell phone, but you don’t have time to think in an emergency. Regular safety checks ensure your team is prepared.
Tip: You can make ag safety a year-round focus on your farm—and check out the suggestions entered for Ag Safety Week for some inspiration in the Twitter post below.