Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, hosted by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA), takes place from March 13 to 19 this year under the banner: Your Farm, Your Family, Your Success.
Organizers are calling farmers, families and workers alike to implement farm safety plans, talk about farm safety, and to keep farm safety top-of-mind every day.
Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is an annual public campaign committed to raising awareness about the importance of farm safety.
For over a decade, CASA has been raising awareness about the importance of safety on Canadian farms.
This year, organizers are focusing on practical safety advice, awareness and the reasons why safety is essential for all farming operations.
CASA CEO Andrea Lear said farm safety goes beyond knowing about farm hazards.
“Farm safety is also about changing unsafe behaviours and habits, understanding the positive business case for incorporating safety on farming operations and addressing what it truly means to value safety and health,” she said.
Farm Credit Canada is the presenting sponsor of safety week and supports farm safety programs, including Back to Ag, a program that assists with the cost of adaptive technology for farmers who have experienced a traumatic injury.
“Farms present a variety of workplace hazards, so incorporating solid safety practices each and every day is paramount for reducing risk to farm family members and employees,” said Farm Credit president and CEO Michael Hoffort.
According to Canadian Agricultural Reporting Data, there were 2,324 agriculture-related fatalities in Canada between 1990 and 2012.
In the first 12 years, on average there were 116 fatalities per year. In the second; 85 per year.
“Over the 23 year period the overall agriculture fatality rate decreased an average of 1.1% annually,” states a CASA publication on ag-related fatalities.
Eliminating hazards key to preventing harm
“Many hazards that would have been wildly dangerous and oftentimes lead to certain death if something went wrong are now controlled to a degree,” stated CASA communications coordinator Robin Anderson in an email.
“A great example of this is [rollover protective structure] in tractors,” she added.
Although some hazards, such as cattle handling, haven’t changed, the technology, practices and knowledge have, in some cases, eliminated hazards, or mitigated issues, according to Anderson.
However, in other areas new hazards have cropped up.
“The sheer volume of grain being handled has increased exponentially. Grain moves faster through larger augers into larger bins” increasing the chance of entrapment and engulfment, Anderson said.
CASA advocates for farm safety plan
Farm safety planning will help identify and address hazards.
“Not one person plans on being injured or killed while farming; we always advise farmers to be proactive by developing a comprehensive farm safety plan,” said Anderson.
“On a cost-benefit analysis, it costs far less to invest some time into developing a comprehensive farm safety plan than it does trying to recover from a catestrophic incident,” she said, adding even minor injuries result in lost time and income.
“On top of the dollars and cents, a price cannot be established, nor should it, for lives and limbs lost in a preventable incident. The death of anyone – family members, visitors, workers, children – is devastating.”
Canadian Agricultural Safety Week seeks to change behaviour and save lives by highlighting the issue of agricultural-related injuries.
“We are still seeing children killed as bystanders or extra riders on farm machinery, for example. The industry is constantly evolving and changing, but it still remains a hazardous environment,” Anderson said.
“We’re asking everyone involved in ag to have those conversations that could save lives.”
More information about safety week, including resources, is available at agsafetyweek.ca.