My Equipment, My Life: Personal Protective Equipment

National Farm Safety Week
March 14 - 20, 2009

Farming is a way of life for many Canadian families. It is vital that a safety program is in place to protect you, your family, and your employees from injury or fatality.

Each year, there are over 100 fatalities and at least 1,500 are hospitalized, from farm-related incidents in Canada , reports the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program. In 2006 alone, a total of 13,801 Canadian farms reported one or more medically treated or lost time injuries, reports Statistics Canada. The most frequent cause of farm-related injuries includes the unsafe use of equipment or material-handling practices.

March 14th – 20th is National Farm Safety Week. Canada Safety Council encourages you to take precautions on the farm to prevent accidents before they happen. Personal protective equipment is an excellent safety measure in the steps to safety-proofing your farm.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes equipment, such as gloves, hard hats, respirators, safety glasses, safety shoes, earplugs and vests. PPE is designed to protect employees from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with mechanical, physical, electrical, chemical, radiological, or other workplace hazards.

Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. Using PPE is often essential, but should be used as the last line of defence after implementing engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls.

  • Engineering controls – physically changing a machine or work environment to make it safer.
  • Administrative controls – changing how or when employees do their jobs, such as scheduling work and rotating employees to reduce exposures.
  • Work practices – training workers how to perform tasks in ways that reduce exposure to hazards.

Using PPE is only one element in a complete safety program in helping to maintain a safe and healthy occupational environment. The implementation of a PPE program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of equipment; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness. Worker protection, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and technical feasibility are the three considerations in the development of any safety program.

Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration when selecting appropriate items for their workplace. Equipment that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use. If several different types of PPE are worn together, make sure they are compatible. If equipment does not fit properly, it may not provide the level of protection desired and may discourage employee use. Also, ensure all PPE is maintained in a clean and consistent manner.p. The cooperative efforts of both employers and employees will need to be established and maintained to ensure a safe work environment. Before you use PPE, you must:

  • Know how to use PPE correctly
  • Be aware of when PPE is necessary
  • Select appropriate PPE for a variety of circumstances
  • Understand the limitations of PPE in protecting employees from injury
  • Know how to wear, adjust and remove PPE properly; and
  • Maintain PPE properly

Having an effective safety program in place is essential in reducing the amount and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses and their related costs. In fact, a successful health and safety program provides better worker protection, can save time and money, can increase productivity, and reduce worker injuries, illnesses and related workers’ compensation costs. Together, everyone can work to make the farm a safe workplace. Remember, your equipment can save your life.

For more information, please contact:

Valerie Powell
Communications and Media Program Coordinator 
Canada Safety Council
(613) 739-1535 (ext. 228)