Farmers Must Protect Their Greatest Asset
Mar 13, 2022
Farming is important and rewarding work but is often hard work with a high physical demand, long hours and modest margins. And yet, as farmers know across the country, it’s a vital industry that contributes to Canada’s success.
Success is also dependent on managing maintaining and investing in critical assets including equipment, crops and animals and most farmers would do anything necessary to protect their investments.
And yet at times it seems that this same level of protection is not always apparent with the farm’s biggest asset: its producers, employees and family members.
National Farm Safety Week is March 14-20, and the Canada Safety Council is reminding Canadian farmers that keeping workers safe needs to be a very high priority.
A 2020 study conducted by Farm Credit Canada for the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, though, speaks to a disconnect on this point. The survey, which contacted 1,200 farmers across Canada to discuss safety-related issues, found that seven in 10 producers had either been injured or nearly injured on the job in their lives.
Nearly one-quarter of respondents said they’d experienced this within the past year.
“The agricultural sector is naturally pressurized by the influences of market demand, the time pressure of seasonal operations and the need to hire, train and retrain workers. While productivity is important, it can be hampered without the proper training of workers and the implementation of best safety practices,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council.
“Injuries on the job can lead to inefficiencies that rob productivity. Investing up front by applying the best safety practices and providing proper worker training not only helps keep workers safe, it’s just smart business.”
The disconnect, according to the survey, is behavioural in nature. Shifting priorities, farm operation stress, and family dynamics all contribute to habits that do not prioritize safety or safety training. Only one in 10 respondents reported having a written safety plan, with an additional two-thirds admitting to not seeking out any safety information in the last year.
Injuries on the farm are preventable. A safety plan – even one as simple as detailing the various hazards that exist on the farm and ways to avoid injury – can go a long way toward keeping the workforce productive and maximizing the farm’s output in the long term.
Safety can and should be always front-of-mind, even in times of stress. The most valuable asset to a farm is its workforce. Whether it consists of migrant workers, employees, family or a combination of all of the above, it must be protected.
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For more information, please contact:
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council