AgSafe Alberta Offers Practical Farm Safety Solutions (PCN Spring 2017) MAR 28 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News
This article appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Pulse Crop News.
Donna Trottier, AgSafe Alberta
Farm and ranch safety has always been a top priority for the agriculture community in Alberta. Farmers and ranchers take the safety of their farms, their families and their employees very seriously. All farms have some degree of safety measures in place, however, farm managers also recognize that there may be room for improvement. Producers feel that farm and ranch safety should be directed by the agriculture industry, and they are motivated to lead the process of enhancing safety practices on their farms and ranches.
Representatives from a broad collection of Alberta’s agricultural crop and livestock commodity groups have teamed up to form an industry-led farm safety consortium, AgSafe Alberta. The team received funding from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Growing Forward 2 Program (GF2). These funds are being used for the development and delivery of practical farm safety education and awareness resources aiming to enable and encourage Alberta farmers and ranchers to improve on-farm safety programs and practices.
The introduction of Bill 6 the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act in Alberta in January 2016 created hype around the topic of farm safety. Producers have, however, expressed hesitation in moving full steam ahead with farm safety programming for several reasons:
- The authorities have not, to date, revealed how the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code will apply on farms;
- perceived cost of farm safety programming;
- time involved to set up and operate programming;
- fear of complex programs; and
- not wanting external interference with the management of the farm.
AgSafe Alberta will offer adaptable programming and design approaches to help farmers and ranchers overcome these obstacles.
AgSafe Alberta will develop farm safety resources for all people on the farm including family members, children, farm employees and owner operators, regardless of whether OHS legislation applies to them or not. Extension activities such as presentations, seminars and articles will be delivered to elevate farm safety awareness and to distribute AgSafe Alberta resources.
The group will establish and pilot a set of farm safety services that will lay out a roadmap and form the foundation for stable industry-led farm safety programming for Alberta farms and ranches into the future. Guidance and resources for regulatory compliance requirements will be developed after more definition is given on how the OH&S Regulations and Code apply to Alberta farms. In the meantime, farms can continue to improve on farm safety by implementing a safety program that complies with the OH&S Act.
Development of AgSafe Alberta farm safety tools is now underway starting with the Quick Start Farm Safety Management Guide, Farm Risk Assessment Tool and training resources for hazard assessment and farm employee orientation. AgSafe Alberta is also in the process of recruiting qualified, competent farm safety advisors to help in the delivery of the tools, training and farm safety services. Training and resources will be made available in multiple platforms and will be practical and adaptable to all sectors within our agriculture industry.
Why have a farm safety management program? The obvious benefit to implementing a safety program on the farm is the prevention of injuries, illnesses and fatalities. A successful farm safety system helps incorporate a safety philosophy into the operation, reduces risk-taking activities and helps prevent incidents. Farm safety does not have to be complicated, and AgSafe Alberta will provide the guidance and tools to help get you started. Keep it simple and let it grow over time. A few simple preventative measures can go a long way towards a safe working environment on the farm.
Contact AgSafe Alberta’s Farm and Ranch Safety Extension Coordinator Donna Trottier at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to express your interest in AgSafe Alberta resources and services.