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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Alberta to observe Canadian Agricultural Safety Week March 15 - 21


Agri-News

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week runs March 15-21 this year. This is a great time for farmers, farm workers and families to initiate discussion around safety and implementing a health and safety system on their farms.

“It is important to create and implement a health and safety management system that encompasses all aspects of a farm’s operations for the entire year,” says Laurel Aitken, farm safety coordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD). “The important first step to creating this system is for farm owners and managers to develop a policy outlining their commitment to safety.”


Once that commitment is put in place the next steps are to identify hazards and put controls in place to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with those hazards. The very nature of duties associated with farming can make hazard identification a rather daunting task. However, it is the identification and control of hazards that create a safe environment on any worksite. Continual monitoring for new hazards and reporting and investigating incidents enable owners, managers and workers to make continuous improvements.

“When you look at the benefits of creating a health and safety system, there are three main factors: human, legal and financial,” says Aitken.

The human factor benefits of a health and safety system are that it not only meets the moral obligations of keeping workers, visitors and family members safe and healthy, but increases morale, motivation and worker retention while meeting consumer expectations of how food is produced. From a legal standpoint a documented safety plan proves due diligence to avoid legal issues and reduces the likelihood of civil or criminal code penalties. The financial benefits of a health and safety system include consistent productivity, more effective service delivery, reduction in indirect costs, less equipment or property damage and, in some cases, reduction of insurance fees.

There are many tools and resources available to help farm owners and managers develop a health and safety management system on their farm. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development is now in the final stages of completing the second pilot program to test the Alberta FarmSafe Plan. The plan is a tool to help farmers implement a tailored health and safety system for their farming operation. It was developed in conjunction with Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. The Alberta FarmSafe Plan will be available to help Alberta farmers implement their own health and safety management system this fall.

For more information on the Alberta FarmSafe Plan, visit the ARD farm safety website or contact Laurel Aitken by phone at 780-980-4230 or by email at laurel.aitken@gov.ab.ca.

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