According to research conducted by the Canadian Agriculture Injury Surveillance Program, on average, 113 people are killed and at least 1,500 are hospitalized as the result of farm-related injuries in Canada each year. The most frequent causes of these injuries include the unsafe use of equipment or material-handling practices with fatigue, wanting to save time and miscommunication between workers following close behind.
To help reduce these unfortunate but seemingly avoidable accidents from occurring, “personal protective equipment (PPE) only works if you use it,” is the theme of this year’s Canadian Agricultural Safety campaign. The yearlong campaign delivered by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and the Canadian Agriculture Safety Association (CASA) in partnership with Farm Credit Canada (FFC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and focusing on the use, proper fitting, and access of PPE in agriculture, will be launched during Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW) running from Mar. 11 to 17.
“The message in the theme may sound obvious, however, the numbers speak louder than the words,” said Greg Stewart, FCC President and CEO. “Canadian producers are still suffering injuries and fatalities and many of these incidents could have been prevented if personal protective equipment was available and used properly.”
According the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, there are many serious safety hazards on a farm and one of them is noise. Machinery, motors, and even animals can create a hazardous environment.
“Noise induced hearing loss is 100 per cent preventable but once acquired, hearing loss is permanent and irreversible. Therefore, prevention measurers must be taken by employers and workers to ensure hearing protection at all time,” said Marcel Hacault, Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. A normal conversation takes place at 60 decibels (dB) but a gunshot reaches 130 dB, which can cause pain and damage. It is recommended that hearing protection, such as ear plugs and/or earmuffs be worn if noise or sound levels in a work environment exceed 85 dB.
Eye injuries are also very common. According to a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) flying or falling objects, or sparks striking the eye cause 70 per cent of injuries while another 20 per cent of injuries are from contact with chemicals including anything from cleaning solutions to pesticides and anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. Keeping eye protection such as safety glasses with side shields, goggles face shields, etc. – depending on the work being completed – near the work area is simple and drastically reducing the likelihood of injury.
Additional PPE includes hardhats, proper footwear, hand protection, respirators, and even the proper washing of chemically exposed clothing.
“You can’t take all the hazards out of agriculture. It’s just the nature of the work; however, we can certainly reduce many of the hazards with a little thought and preparation and by making safety a part of each and every job,” said Hacault.
It is also important to keep in mind that using PPE is only one element in a complete safety program including a variety of strategies needed to maintain a safe and healthy work area. Suggested elements to take into consideration when developing a PPE program include the protection of workers, compliance with applicable laws, regulations and internal company standards and technical feasibility. Conscious decision-making, evaluation and re-evaluation are required to produce and improve a plan as well.
For more information on developing a PPE safety program that works for you, visit www.ccohs.ca. To test and even improve your knowledge, take a farm safety quiz by visiting www.fccfarmsafety.ca.
More information on Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is available at www.casa-acsa.ca or www.cfa-fca.ca.