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Farm Safety: It’s personal!

by Theresa Whalen
CFA Farm Safety Consultant (463 words)

Safety planning, practices and training are very important aspects of safety in the workplace; but when you get
right down to it – your safety is a choice you make for yourself. It’s personal!

“Farm safety is not an act of fate,” says Marcel Hacault, Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Safety
Association (CASA). “Most farm-related incidents are the predictable consequence of particular acts or
omissions. If something is predictable, then it is also preventable.”

“Plan • Farm • Safety” is the three-year theme of the Canadian Agricultural Safety campaign, which was
launched last March. Each aspect of the theme will be promoted over the next three years.

The 2010 campaign promotes “Plan” with safety walkabouts and planning for safety. In the second year, the
focus will be on “Farm” including implementation, documentation and training. In the third year, emphasis will
be on “Safety” including assessment, improvement and further development of safety systems.

“The bottom line is that each person must assess their situation and consciously decide to do their work safely,”
says Hacault. “They have to decide to turn the machine off before working on it. They have to decide to wear
their seatbelt. They have to decide to block the wheels before unhitching the wagon. These may not seem like
big decisions, however they can mean the difference between life or death.”

Each year in Canada an average of 115 people are killed and at least 1,500 are hospitalized for farm-related
incidents according to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) program. In 2006 a total of 13,801
Canadian farms reported one or more medically treated or lost time injuries, reports Statistics Canada.

CAIR studies have also shown that farm-related injuries and fatalities don’t just happen by chance – they are the
result of a chain of events typically numbering from 15 to 25. The good news is that there are many
opportunities to interrupt the sequence and break the chain of events, altering the outcome.

Here are four questions that can help you assess your risks as you do your farm work: What are the hazards?
Am I or anyone else at risk? What preventative measures are available? Can anything further be done to make
this job safe? An easy way to remember these questions is with the acronym SAFE – See, Access, Fix, Evaluate.

“Farmers and farm workers have a dual role in risk management,” summarizes Hacault. “They can be a source of
risk when they do things carelessly; and they are also the most important part of the strategy for dealing with
risk. That’s why it is so important for owner-operators to lead by example and always insist that work is done in
a safe way.”

More information on this and other farm safety topics is available at www.planfarmsafety.ca or www.cfa-fca.ca.

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For more information contact:
Theresa Whalen, CFA Farm Safety Consultant – T: (613) 822-0016 E: farmsafety@cfafca.ca
** Free photos and cartoons are available to accompany this article at www.casa-acsa.ca