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Sow the seeds of farm workplace safety this winter

Here’s a list of recommended courses for reducing the risk on your farm

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Winter is a good time to make your farm safer.

“It’s the time of year when some farmers take a step back from their hectic physical farm work and make assessments for the future,” said Kenda Lubeck, a provincial farm safety co-ordinator. Here are some courses you might consider taking:

  • First aid: This is a must for any farm. All workers should have some sort of first aid training, whether it be first aid on the farm, emergency first aid, standard first aid or higher. There are a few options to access training. Call St. John’s Ambulance at 1-800-665-7114.
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  • Equipment operator’s training: This is particularly important for new and young farm workers. Equipment such as skid steers, loaders, and tractors are powerful and have the potential to severely injure workers. Check online or look for courses in your area.
  • Chemical-related courses: Farmers working with pesticides, ammonia, and in the presence of sour gas will benefit from courses such as pesticide applicators, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) or H2S Alive. Check with your chemical supply dealer for pesticide applicator training in your area. WHMIS training can be accessed online, while H2S courses are available through safety companies that specialize in oilfield safety courses.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training: For those handling chemicals, respirator training will be beneficial. For anyone working from heights, a fall protection course is recommended.
  • Livestock safety: Virtually any course involving livestock includes aspects of safety. These include a horsemanship or ranch hand course, stockman course, and horse/livestock hauling. Check with local agricultural societies, livestock clubs and organizations for upcoming clinics.
  • Machinery maintenance: Well cared for machinery and equipment increases safety while decreasing the risk of downtime due to machinery failure.
  • Fire extinguisher training: There are many types of fire extinguishers, and they can be intimidating to operate. It is a good idea to take this training before you need it.
  • Safety systems training: At the basic level, this type of training course will teach participants the value of a safety program and how to get started setting one up. There are many courses aimed at different industries; farmers should look for a generic course provided by a private consultant or a reputable post-secondary institution.

“Planning now for a safe and prosperous year ahead is a sound investment for the future,” said Lubeck. “This can be formal training such as mentioned, or simply going over the plan you have in place along with any farm workplace protocols.”

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has recently developed FarmSafe Alberta — A Safety Planning Guide for Farms and Ranches. For more information on the guide, or how to set up a FarmSafe Alberta workshop in your area, contact farm safety co-ordinator Laurel Aitken at 780-980-4230 or visit agriculture.alberta.ca.

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