Get with the plan – Canadian Agricultural Safety Week

by Kim Waalderbos

This week farmers are being reminded to ‘Get with the plan!’ – the farm safety plan, that is. It’s all part of Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, held this year from March 10-16th. The week kicks off with events held at farms across Canada.

The farm and food care industry is a key primary industry in Canada, and also one of the most dangerous. Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) shows that 1,975 farm-related deaths occurred between 1990 and 2008. Of those deaths, 47 per cent were farmer/owner operator, and 14 per cent were their children. CAIR also found 14,830 individuals were admitted to hospital because of agricultural injuries between 1990 and 2000 (the last years injury data was readily collected).

In a recent survey, the majority of Canadian farmers (85 per cent) say safety is a priority on their farm, but less than one in ten have a written agricultural safety plan on their farm or ranch. This week, the spotlight is on and farmers are being encouraged to use free resources like www.planfarmsafety.cato make their own customized, written, farm safety plan. With a plan, farmers can identify hazards on the farm, control them, outline emergency actions, conduct training and monitor incidents.

According to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, machinery is involved in 70 per cent of farming fatalities in Canada, with rollovers (mainly tractors) being the top ranked cause of fatality. (Source of photo is unknown)

In the blink of an eye life on a farm can be changed dramatically. Most farmers can readily think of a neighbour, friend or family member that has been involved in a farm incident.

As a young girl, I can remember being the one who picked up the phone on two different occasions when our neighbours called our farm for help. Coincidentally, both those experiences involved entanglements in the fast moving power-take-off (PTO) devices on tractors that are used to power a piece of machinery attached to the tractor. It’s the kind of phone call that makes your legs move faster than you thought possible to get your dad so he can help. Fortunately, both of those neighbours endured through tough hospital recoveries and are still with us today.

It’s a call no one wants to receive. So this week, farmers will spend special time planning. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Canadian Agriculture Safety Week is delivered by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Canadian Agricultural Safety Association in partnership with Farm Credit Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The campaign’s three-year theme is Plan • Farm • Safety.

To test your farm safety awareness, or for more information, check out: www.agsafetyweek.ca.

Little things have big effects

  • Machinery is involved in 70 per cent of farming fatalities in Canada, with rollovers (mainly tractors) being the top ranked cause of fatality.
  • Injuries are most commonly related to machine repair and maintenance, followed by incidents involving animals.

Sources: Canadian Agricultural Safety Association

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