A change in perspective drives new tools for agriculture

Image from  WorkSafeBC video Tractor Rollovers

Image from WorkSafeBC video Tractor Rollovers

It’s a new resource for BC farmers and ranchers – launched during Agriculture Safety Week March 15 to 21, 2015.

Now available on the WorkSafeBC website, the Tractor and Equipment Safety Initiative asks employers to revisit their existing safety procedures and develop a safety plan for working with equipment and machinery.

“Any farmer you ask can tell you about someone who was injured by or because of a piece of equipment,” says Wendy Bennett, executive director of BC’s Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA).

“Farmers continue to be killed or very seriously injured and this has to stop. It only takes a few seconds to ensure that the equipment is properly guarded or secured.”

Since 2009, there have been 11 fatalities and 134 serious injuries related to equipment and machinery in BC. That includes employers registered with WorkSafeBC and unregistered hobby farmers. (Technically speaking, hobby farmers are not under WorkSafeBC’s mandate, as per the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, but when an incident occurs on one of these farms, it affects the whole community.)

What’s unique about this industry is that an “employee” could refer to a brother, daughter, or other family member. This calls for a different vocabulary than what is used typically when it comes to occupational health and safety. Words like “employer” and “workplace” tend not to resonate in the same way as they do in other industries. That’s why the new resources talk about safe practices for “you, your family, and your workers.”

“This helps because we are encouraging them to ensure that their farm is safe for their family and their farm family,” Wendy says. “It is easier to make a connection for them on a personal level in this case.”

Postcards, posters, and notebooks are also available and soon to be published in French, Spanish, and Punjabi.

Getting attention on social media

This year, Agriculture Safety Week included a social media contest offering daily prizes worth $100+, with a grand prize of 1,000 litres of fuel.

Here are some of the tips submitted using the #GrowSafety hashtag:

* I #GrowSafety by actually having a Farm Safety Plan. @planfarmsafety has the template for you (@_icu812_)
* #GrowSafety safety tip: wear steel toed boots!! (@neufy_21)
* Safety equipment placed in equipment and throughout builds in case of emergency for everyone #GrowSafety (@agnathanstamp)
* #GrowSafety safety tip: wear ear plugs when operating loud machinery! (@jdoherty_10)

It’s great to see so many people sharing their safety tips (and photos). Congrats and thanks to all winners.


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