Agriculture is one of Saskatchewan’s largest and most hazardous industries. Incidents occur more often during critical farming times 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. A few tips to remember during critical farming times 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.
- If you have additional help for farming activities, make sure to properly train them.
- Change jobs periodically. Get out and take a short walk.
- If youth are recruited to help with farming, make sure the activities are age appropriate and the youth are properly trained and supervised.
The Farm Safety Guide is another great resource that provides advice about training, clarifies employer and worker roles and responsibilities, and identifies workplace hazards on the farm. You can also visit the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s Website for other valuable farm safety tools, such as the Canada Farm Safe Plan.
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 covers the health and safety of both farmers and farm workers, especially where an employer-employee relationship exists.
As a farmer or farm operator, that employs farm worker(s), 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; and
- 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, and
- the right to refuse.
- Provide hazard information - ensure that the worker understands the potential hazards, and the precautions that must be taken to avoid the risk of 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; and
- 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 & why) for each work-related activity.
- Be available to adequately supervise and provide assistance to workers when help is needed.
- 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).
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 to the farmer's attention any concerns for health and safety.
- Must wear the PPE provided by the employer. 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.