In this photo, firefighters place panels of a grain rescue tube around a volunteer during a BeGrainSafe training in Rocky Mountain House. One of the areas of farm safety that the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association looks at is being grain safe. Photo courtesy of Evan Stewart

Recognizing safety during Farm Safety Week

Sometimes getting the farm safe for family and workers takes baby steps

Farmers or farm businesses looking to revamp their safety protocols can take part in safety workshops, online courses or even one-on-one training.

With Canadian Agricultural Safety Week from March 10 to 16 farm safety advocates are doing their part to help farmers with their safety plans. Jody Wacowich, executive director at AgSafe Alberta has noticed is that the safety industry has seen new developments in recent years.

“People are interested in safety and making farms safe, both on the employer side and the family farm side,” said Wacowich.

Organizations like AgSafe Alberta and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) are focussed on programs that make it easier for farms to improve their safety plans. With programs like workshops, online courses, safety plan templates and even 10-hour one-on-one programs, it’s becoming easier to go through the process.

Online courses: A benefit of online courses are that they can be taken at any point in the year.

In-person training: These can include training in ATV use, farm equipment orientation, safe horse handling, low stress cattle handling and protecting workers.

Custom services: CASA also offers the opportunity for a custom course that can be requested by email.

Wacowich advises if a farm operator wants the in-person class to be prepared for a bit of a wait, which is why she advocates also trying the workshops. Whatever steps a farm operator takes, Wacowich recommends taking incremental steps.

CASA’s program includes a Canada FarmSafe Plan, which helps take the guesswork out of safety planning. The plan includes download links to safety preparedness. The forms are similar to what is found in heavy industrial sites with walk arounds, checklists, job responsibilities, meeting plans and more. It’s quite extensive and can be somewhat overwhelming.

“It’s important when you’re looking at trying to start some safety on your farm to start small,” she said.

Other areas of focus for CASA are in children’s safety, grain safety, machinery safety and working with a variety of partners with injury reporting. The organization also hosts an annual conference on safety; this year’s is set for OCt. 8 to 10 in Quebec City, Que.

Wacowich suggests a strong safety plan is oriented around the operation and its needs.

“The most important assets on your farm aren’t the equipment or the buildings, it’s the people and we want to make sure they get home safe,” said Wacowich.

AgSafe Alberta also offers a variety of quick start guides, templates and videos. Plus, AgSave Alberta also provides online courses similar to CASA’s.

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