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Winter is a great time to make the farm more safe

Taking one or more safety courses could pay invaluable dividends next year for you, your family, and employees

Put farm safety on your agenda for the coming months, says a provincial farm safety specialist.

“Winter is a great time to pull out your farm safety plan — or develop one if you haven’t already — and decide what kind of training program your family members and employees should take,” said Blair Takahashi.

Some of the courses Takahashi recommends you consider are:

  • First aid should be a high priority for any farm. It is advisable for all workers to have some sort of first aid training, whether it be farm-specific first aid, emergency first aid, standard first aid or higher.
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  • Equipment operator’s training 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.
  • Farmers working with pesticides, ammonia, or 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 companies that specialize in oilfield safety courses.
  • For those handling chemicals, respirator training (also known as Personal Protective Equipment training) will be beneficial. For anyone working from heights, a fall protection course is recommended.
  • For those using horses to tend cattle, a horsemanship or ranch hand course will help. Others to consider are stockman courses and horse/livestock hauling. Check with local agricultural societies, livestock clubs and organizations for upcoming clinics.
  • Fire extinguisher training covers the many types of fire extinguishers, and it is a good idea to take this training before you need it.
  • Safety systems training teaches 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.

Alberta Agriculture has recently developed a guide called FarmSafe Alberta — A Safety Planning Guide for Farms and Ranches. The guide shows how to create and implement a health and safety management system specific to individual farming operations. The guide can be found online (search for ‘farmsafe’). For more information on using the guide or to set up a FarmSafe Alberta workshop in your area, contact Takahashi at 403-388-4030.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association has several online training courses available online. The Saskatchewan Safety Council offers free online training at www.sasksafety.org. The course, which takes about three hours to complete, provides a general introduction and overview of health and safety hazards and risks on most farms. — With staff files

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