By Haldimand Press Staff
Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in Canada, with some of the highest rates of injury and mental illness.
Each year, over 100 adults and children are killed in farming accidents. In addition to agricultural fatalities, farmers are at high risk of respiratory disease, permanent hearing loss, skin cancer, and health problems resulting from exposure to toxic farming chemicals.
Organizations like the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) are addressing health and safety issues in the farming industry by raising awareness about existing problems and developing educational programs and tools to help farmers stay safe. Some of the CASA’s ongoing projects include promoting farm safety education for youth, analyzing agricultural fatality data, sponsoring safety courses for using agricultural machinery, and supporting the development of adaptive technology for injured farmers. They’ve also developed the Canada FarmSafe Plan, a business risk management tool to help farmers develop health and safety procedures, and the BeGrainSafe program, an initiative that aims to bring grain safety education and training to rural communities.
To learn more about the CASA and what you can do to keep our farms safe and our farmers healthy, visit the Canadian Agricultural Safety Week website at agsafetyweek.ca.
The harvest can be a particularly busy and dangerous time for farmers. To help you assess your habits, here are 20 tips for safer farming.
- Learn basic first aid, including CPR and emergency response skills.
- Use personal protective equipment as needed, including gloves, boots, hearing protection, face masks, and respirators.
- Teach everyone who lives and works on your farm, as well as visitors, the appropriate safety procedures.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing when working in confined spaces such as grain bins, silos, and hoppers.
- Get plenty of rest, and be sure to stay hydrated and nourished throughout the day.
- Perform safety and maintenance checks on tractors and other machines before every use.
- Install a rollover protection structure on each tractor.
- Use a seatbelt when operating farm equipment.
- Prohibit additional riders on tractors.
- Drive safely both on and off the farm.
- Be cautious around dangerous chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane gas, and hydrogen sulfide.
- Store farm chemicals away from children and livestock.
- Make a list of all chemicals on the premises for firefighters to reference in the event of an incident.
- Treat livestock with respect and caution.
- Understand the flight zones of the animals you handle.
- In confined spaces, make sure you have an exit strategy.
- Keep bins, beds, and wagons of grain safely covered and out of the reach of children and animals.
- Make sure no grain is flowing before you enter a bin, and always have a rope, safety harness, and two people with you.
- To prevent fires, make sure areas with grain dust are properly ventilated and limit potential ignition sources.
- If someone becomes submerged in grain, call 911, and don’t attempt to go in after them.
In addition to these 20 tips, be sure to have an emergency response plan specific to your operation. It should include shutdown procedures, emergency contact information (local fire department, police, etc.), and lockout procedures.