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Safety on Farms Must Be a Priority

Mar 12, 2019 | 2019, Campaigns, National Farm Safety Week, News, Workplace Safety

As society evolves, some professions come and go. For instance, there aren’t very many elevator operators in the world anymore. Gone are the days of town criers. You won’t see many librarians organizing their microfiche catalogues, nor are VHS repair technicians in high demand.

On the other hand, other professions are evergreen, continuously in demand and vital even in the face of technological advancement. And agriculture, it should go without saying, continues to be one of the most important industries in Canada. To mark this year’s National Farm Safety Week, March 14 – 20, the Canada Safety Council wants to remind Canadians that fatalities and injuries on the farm are wholly preventable through preemptive awareness and preparedness.

According to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, overall fatality rates continue to be on the decline, at a rate of approximately 1.1 per cent year over year. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, the industry saw 60 fatalities in Canada. This is down from 75 reported fatalities in 2011 and 91 in 2010.

Given the demographic of farmers, it should also come as no surprise that male adults continue to experience the highest fatality rates. Between 2003 and 2012, men over the age of 15 accounted for roughly 83 per cent of all fatalities, with a fairly even split between men aged 15-59 and those aged 60 or older.

“The agricultural domain has traditionally been a male-driven industry,” said Jack Smith, president of the Canada Safety Council. “While this context explains the demographics a bit more logically, the fact remains that too many people continue to lose their lives on farms. The statistics are trending in a positive direction – let’s keep building on that momentum and help prevent needless fatalities.”

This is not to diminish the importance of family-run farms, which tend to be fairly common. However, as the statistics show, the bulk of the fatalities are males.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of these fatalities occur during the summer months, peaking in July and September, with rollovers being the leading cause of fatalities during this peak season. They contributed to 19 per cent of total fatalities between June and November.

Additionally, machinery rollovers, runovers and being pinned or struck by a component contributing to 44 per cent of overall fatalities year-round, putting emphasis on the importance of a healthy respect for agricultural machinery.

Reading the owner’s manual continues to be a farmer’s best asset. With correct maintenance and operation, machines are inherently designed to keep their users safe. Trust that the manufacturer knows the best use for the machine and stick to it, even if it means taking the long way around rather than driving up a steep hill.

“Shortcuts too often lead to tragedy,” said Smith. “Safety isn’t a switch to be flicked on when it’s convenient. It needs to be an attitude, a constant presence that pervades every action and every moment.”

Visual inspection before riding, preventative maintenance and appropriate caution and judgment are all key components in ensuring the safety of anyone using a machine in the line of work. And, of course, it’s crucial to ensure that machines in operation are given a wide berth by both adults and children.

Reaping the benefits of a hard farming season is a satisfying feeling, and the Canada Safety Council urges you to take steps to ensure you and your loved ones are alive to enjoy it. Happy harvesting!

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council
613-739-1535 x228