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Statistics show senior farmers need safer working practices

The good news is statistics indicate farm fatalities are declining.

The bad news is that for older farmers the fatality rate is much higher than any other age group.

Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) found that fatality rates are highest for older adults, aged 60 and over. In 2012, the fatality rate for older adults was 22.2 per cent. Compare that to adults in the 15 to 59 age range, which was only 4.2%. Both groups, despite a sizable variation in fatality rates, are continuing to see fatality rates decrease at a 1.1% average each year.

Glen Blahey, Agriculture Health and Safety Specialist for the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA), says it is important for senior farmers and their families to have conversations about aging and to discuss making modifications to daily routines to keep everyone safe.

“As people age, there are changes that occur in their body,” he says. “These changes can present significant hazards because people attempt to perform tasks with the same degree of skill, or dexterity, that they did earlier in their lives.”

However, the good news is that overall, agriculture-related fatalities are declining, and Blahey says there are two major reasons for this.

“The work environment is getting safer - equipment design, and technology. And because of heightened awareness,” he says. “Discussing farm safety is no longer considered taboo.”

Even though senior farmers experience fatalities higher than other age groups, that does not mean older farmers have to stop contributing to the farm. Learning how to identify hazards in the workplace can be a useful practice for all operations and can keep experienced farmers contributing longer and in a safe way. More importantly, having someone with the life experience, and wisdom, still working in agriculture helps to make the transition process smoother from one generation to the next.

“Wisdom, experience, and physical presence is important to the farm,” Blahey emphasizes. “Take advantage of all experienced farmers have to offer, and suit the work to the best of their abilities.”

For information about “Supporting Seniors,” including a Job Safety Analysis template, visit

March 9, 2018


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