Agriculture is one of Saskatchewan’s largest and most hazardous industries. Incidents occur more often during critical farming times. They can cause needless suffering and consequently reduce farm revenues.
According to the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture (CCHSA), 14 people are killed on average each year and many others are injured on Saskatchewan farms in incidents that could have been prevented.
Everyone can do their part to change the statistics and make Saskatchewan farms safer. The Farm Safety Guide 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.
Employer and Employee Responsibilities on the Farm
Farmers are not exempt from Saskatchewan’s health and safety laws. The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the Act) covers the health and safety of both farmers and farm workers.
A farmer or farm operator must:
- Provide a safe working environment for the worker. They must 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.
- 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
- explanation of safe work procedures and practical demonstrations by the worker 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), discuss safe handling of chemicals and controlled products and instruct the worker about the requirement to wear PPE and how to correctly use and maintain it.
- Report fatal incidents, serious injuries and dangerous occurrences to the Occupational Health and Safety Division. If conflicts arise, attempt prompt resolutions to avoid unnecessary stress.
- 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.
- Must bring to the farmer's attention any concerns for health and safety.
- Must wear the PPE provided by the employer and ask for PPE to be provided if it is not supplied.
- 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.
- Should clearly understand the communication plan (e.g., work progress checks, employer assistance and availability).
- May ask if the employer has insurance coverage.