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Keep your young workers and children safe at harvest

Don’t assume workers know ‘the basics’ and build a separate safe play area for young children

Harvest is the peak season for agricultural-related injuries and fatalities, and new and young workers have a higher rate of injury on the job.

“Always take the time to first go through the activity of training the youth, even if it feels repetitive or redundant — this will ensure they learn and practise the safest way to do the job,” said Janice Donkers, provincial farm safety youth co-ordinator.

Here are some tips to help train young workers effectively:

  • Explain techniques that will make a task easier.
  • Provide comprehensive training for complex tasks such as equipment operation.
  • Specify dos and don’ts of safe equipment operation.
  • Ensure appropriate warning decals are in place and understood by all workers.
  • Identify hazards and show how to eliminate or control them.

Once training is complete, monitor job performance to ensure your workers fully understand the job and are following all safety precautions.

If you have very young children, build a safe play area, said Donkers.

“A safe play area is a carefully planned, designated location for children with limited exposure to hazards such as traffic, agricultural production equipment, and environmental concerns,” she said.

A safe play area should:

  • Be designated and reinforced by boundaries or physical barriers such as fences, gates or shrubs.
  • Be within sight and sound of a responsible adult.
  • Have safety rules for all children, including additional explanations for visitors and friends.
  • Be away from vehicle traffic and other hazards such as machinery or unstable structures.
  • Be free from loud noises.
  • Be free from open water and drowning hazards such as ponds, dugouts, or ditches.
  • Have adequate shade from the sun along with shelter from the wind, dust, or hazardous airborne particles.
  • Have first aid, handwashing, and toilet facilities nearby.

More harvest safety tips are available on Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s website.

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