Add COVID-19 to your safety plan for spring seeding

More cleaning and less sharing of equipment are sensible moves these days

Plan how to stay safe while seeding during COVID-19.

Start, of course, by minimizing contact, said Jody Wacowich, executive director of AgSafe Alberta.

“If you have a large group, maybe have them come at different points during the morning, so they’re not all together,” she said.

But having safety conversations, in one form or another, remains key.

“Something that we talk about in safety all the time, is if you’ve identified a hazard — and COVID-19 is a hazard — have that conversation about how you’re going to mitigate that risk,” she said. “And make everybody part of that solution. That way, everybody is going to do their part, and they understand it and they aren’t challenging you on the decisions being made.

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“Maybe they’re coming up with better ideas.”

People may have their own ways to manage or reduce risk, said Wacowich.

“If somebody has a concern, don’t blow it off. Take the time to understand that concern, and find ways we can mitigate risk for them. Nobody wants to bring this home to their families.”

Meetings and morning coffees can be held outside instead of a confined space, and sharing equipment should be minimized.

“Again, if someone is not feeling well, make sure that they stay home with as little contact with everyone else as possible to reduce the risk to the rest of the farm team,” she said.

A plan on what to do if people have to stay home should prioritize what needs to be done and how it needs to be managed.

“One thing that I do recommend, generally, is having a card or sheet that lists land locations and vehicles,” said Wacowich. “But in this case, it might also be what crops are supposed to go into which fields, if there is fertilizer or other things that need to be added. What was the plan for that field?”

The plan should be known to everyone.

“Even if you’re a family farm, and the neighbours are coming to help you, that helps them help you,” she said.

Avoiding exhaustion has also taken on new significance this year.

“We’re not running everyone ragged. We sometimes do that, but the more we do that, the more they become susceptible to illness.”

Disinfecting wipes should be taken into the field.

“We’ve got a lot of grocery stores and other places that are doing a full wipe down to make it safer for people to come in,” she said. “We can do similar things for equipment. If you know someone else will be driving a piece of equipment the next day, wipe it down.”

Jumping in and out of different pieces of equipment also needs to be viewed in a new light.

“I see it where I am right now,” said Wacowich who lives near the village of Carbon. “People are hopping in and out and moving everything. We may want to limit some of that activity just to prevent some of that spreading and limit some of the cleaning that we might have to do at the end of the day.”

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, she has also published two collections of poetry and a biography about a Sikh civil rights activist. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications across Canada.

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