Our 2019 Annual Report is now online. If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to over the last year, have a look!
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This is the final installment of the sustainability series. If you haven’t done so already, it is time to start building a sustainable farm using the Farm Safety Plan and using the Farm Sustainability Assessment. Both tools offer checklists to evaluate what is in place and what may be needed.
Section 2:3 of the Farm Safety Plan Workbook is a Farm Health and Safety Self-Assessment Checklist. This checklist contains four sections which mirror your Farm Safety Plan Guide and Workbook:
Sections 3.1 to 3.18 of the Farm Sustainability Assessment runs through a series of 112 questions which are of three levels: Essential, Basic and Advanced.
The sections include:
|3.1 General Questions
3.2 Legal Compliance
3.3 Financial Stability
3.4 Farm Management
3.6 Soil Management
3.7 Nutrient Management
3.8 Crop Protection
|3.10 Waste Management
3.11 Water Management
3.14 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
3.15 Market Access
3.16 Labour Conditions
3.17 Health and Safety
3.18 Local Community
Once the questions are completed online, a performance score of bronze, silver and gold is applied based on the responses you provided. An improvement plan can be developed based on the performance score which will help your farm in becoming a more sustainable business.
Contact Farm Safety Nova Scotia if you would like some help in building your Farm Safety Plan. Perhaps a Phase 1 Inspection can help you and others in the community in recognizing hazards on the farm.
If you have been following this series from Day 1, you are well underway in creating a sustainable farm by:
- Implementing risk management;
- Creating engaged employees;
- Preparing for an emergency by having the correct emergency equipment, adequate number of first aiders, and developing emergency response plans for all the potential emergencies that could happen on your farm;
- Identifying hazards, evaluating them for risk and controlling them to mitigate the risk and lower the residual risk of the hazard;
- Learning how safety provides a return on your investment;
- Providing adequate training, safe work practices, and safe job procedures to workers so they can perform hazardous tasks on your farm without incident, illness or injury;
- Providing the correct PPE to protect the worker;
- Learning about worker health and the importance of protecting worker health;
- Learning about occupational hygiene and what it means to include providing adequate drinking water and washing facilities;
- Learning about chemical safety through Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System regulations and available training;
- Increasing communication on the farm through a health and safety representative or a health and safety committee; and
- Knowing what information to post on the farm to increase communication.
If you are just tuning into the series and want to see what you missed click here.
The key to enhancing your return on investment on your newly implemented farm safety plan is discipline. Discipline needs to be specific and timely. Specific, meaning stating exactly what the violation is and why it is a violation of the safety plan. Timely, meaning discipline the worker as soon as reasonably possible after the offence to ensure the worker understands the importance of the infraction and remembers the details of the event to reason on how to prevent reoccurrence of the infraction. Draft a Disciplinary Policy that outlines the expectations of the Farm Safety Plan and what will happen if the Farm Safety Plan is not followed. See section 2:11 of the Farm Safety Plan workbook for guidance.
Disciplinary action should be done in phases unless the offence is severe. Consider a three-phase disciplinary process such as a verbal (documented), written, and termination.
Undisciplined employees have a tendency to repeat infractions and could end up causing the farm significant monetary and human resource losses. Put your foot down and discipline at the beginning and your expectations will be met with mutual understanding and respect.
The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) held their annual conference in beautiful Quebec City from October 8 to 10, 2019. Although I made the 10-hour drive to the conference, my stress level was significantly low while taking in all of the gorgeous fall color and beautiful scenery. While at the conference not only did I meet up with a familiar network of colleagues that I met at the International Society of Agriculture Safety and Health (ISASH) Conference held in June, but I picked up some very astounding information and resources in relation to mental health.
One of the sessions that really caught my attention was “Burnout in Canadian Farms” by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton from the University of Guelph. A survey was conducted amongst 75 Canadian farmers and questions were asked to rate their levels of emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and low professional efficacy. More than half of the farmers surveyed were in the burnout transition or burnout profile based on a scale of engaged, ineffective, disengaged, overextended, and burnout. Risk factors leading to this result were poor self-rated overall health, previous mental stress, financial stress, dissatisfaction with supports such as spouse, friends and the industry, being single, age, and gender
What does this all mean? It means being in the state of burnout can affect your physical health making you susceptible to chronic disease; affect your mental health causing depression and possible insomnia; and behavior and attitude changes such as decreased job satisfaction. At the end of the survey, it was found that it may not be possible to decrease your work load or demands on the farm but increasing your social support could lessen the affects of these demands.
Reach out for help using resources such as the Farm Family Support Center (workhealthlife.com or 1-844-880-9142) or the Mental Health Crisis Hotline (1-888-429-8167 or 1-902-429-8167).
Resources may be helpful in prioritizing and organizing your demands. If you are familiar with YouTube or know someone who is, take a look at this episode of Impact Farming, with Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton. She shares many of the factors that contribute to a sense of overwhelming helplessness and burnout in farmers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGJRlpaLQJg). This is one episode you don’t want to miss, there is so much valuable information here.
In the last sustainability series installment, we looked at increasing communication by having a health and safety representative or a health and safety committee. Referring to section 2 of the Farm Safety Plan and using the communication checklist in section 2:16 of your workbook, you will be able to identify types of information to communicate as part of your Farm Safety Plan.
Information that is required to be posted by the Occupational Health and Safety Act is as follows:
- Information and reports as directed by an OHS officer.
- Codes of practice as required pursuant to the OHS act and regulations.
- Telephone number for OHS to report concerns to the department.
- Company Health and Safety policy, if required by the OHS Act.
- Compliance orders as issued by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
- Phone numbers for the persons to contact, if there is an incident or injury.
- Phone number and contact information for the health and safety representative or health and safety committee members, if required by the OHS Act.
- Health and safety representative or committee meeting minutes, if required by the OHS Act.
Other information you may want to post:
- Maps of the farm to show locations of emergency equipment, chemicals, fuels, emergency shut offs, authorized access areas, or notable hazardous areas.
- Emergency Phone numbers.
- List of First aiders and location of first aid supplies.
- Location of Safety Data Sheets for chemicals.
- Warning signs for any areas of danger or high-risk hazard areas such as chemical storage, high voltage electricity, confined space, manure pits, etc…
- Load rate charts for hoisting equipment.
- Maximum revolutions per minute for abrasive wheels or grinders.
- Operator manuals for machinery and equipment.
- Safe job procedures for hazardous tasks.
Communication is key to preventing incident, illness and injury on your farm. Do not let safety be your best kept trade secret.
As discovered in both the Farm Safety Plan and the Farm Sustainability Assessment communication is key when it comes to hazard identification, risk assessment and hazard control. One way to improve communication is to have a health and safety representative or to establish a health and safety committee. Depending on the number of workers you have on your farm, will depend on if you may need a health and safety representative or a committee. If there are between five and nineteen workers on your farm, a health and safety representative should be appointed. If you have twenty or more employees, a health and safety committee should be established. If there are four or less employees, you can choose to have a health and safety representative on your Farm.
It is best to have a health and safety representative who is a worker or non-management employee. This person is typically exposed to the day to day activities and involved in various tasks on the farm. This person will be exposed to various hazards and can consult with the farmer in regards to identified hazards, inspections, incident investigations, and protective devices.
The health and safety committee is made up of both management and workers not connected to management, where half the members are of each category. The workers not connected to management are elected from the workers they will represent. Typically, a health and safety committee will meet once per month and consult on hazards, inspections, incident investigations, and protective devices.
Having more safety boots on the ground evolves your farm into an Internal Responsibility System which means the responsibility for health and safety is shared among all employees, contractors, and self-employed workers on the farm. This gives a better framework to gain participation in health and safety and more efficient transfer of information thus increasing communication and farm sustainability.
- Section 29 and 33 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
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Progressive Agriculture Safety Days held in Milford, NS on Friday, October 25, 2019, was a huge success thanks to all 34 kids ages 7 to 12, who participated in the safety day. Kids from various locations throughout the Province joined together to learn about farm safety. The kids rotated through 8 stations learning about ATV & tractor safety, chemicals often confused with household or consumer products, biosecurity, fire & fire extinguishers, ticks, and first aid and group activities in the afternoon.
The favorite station of the day was ATV Safety with Cody Wilkins of Aurora OHV Training with the interactive fire extinguisher station with Joe Treen of Safety Services Nova Scotia coming in a very close second.
The beginning of the afternoon involved an interactive Agriculture Trivia Game. Then Build A Safety Kit in which all the participants went home with safety gear such as safety glasses, hearing protection, flashlights, emergency contact cards, and hand sanitizer to name a few of the items. We wrapped up the day with a hearty farm safety Bingo game.
The kids walked away at the end of the day with a great new t-shirt as well as a Take Home Bag of goodies to include a WCB Youth Safety Kit, Tattoos, Farm Safety Activity Book, Farm Safety USB, Card Holder, Sun Safety Bracelet, EHS Pencil, and Water Safety Activity Booklet.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who allowed this day to run smoothly and keep the participants engaged. Also, thank you to Picasso Pizza, Milford Foodland, and Tim Hortons who kept our volunteers and participants nourished throughout the day.
Keep an eye out for the event in 2020, being held in Antigonish at the end of October. Details will be posted in the coming months. See you in 2020.
In the Occupational Hygiene post, we looked at health hazards and listed as a health hazard was chemicals. WHMIS 2015 is part of the Global Harmonized System which is a process for classifying and labeling chemicals or hazardous products. WHMIS 2015 is a training program involving the classification and labelling of chemicals or hazardous products. The training system involves worker education where the worker learns how to read supplier labels, create workplace labels, and read Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in order to protect themselves against the hazards of chemicals or hazardous products. The Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool code FSA105 asks, “Do you ensure that workers who handle hazardous materials are not younger then 18 or pregnant and do not suffer from chronic or respiratory disease?” So, if you are using chemicals or hazardous products on your farm, and workers are working with the chemicals or hazardous products or in the proximity of chemicals or hazardous products, then those workers should be trained in WHMIS 2015. Those who are under 18, pregnant and have a respiratory disease should not be working with chemicals or hazardous products.
It is best to provide training on WHMIS 2015 before farmers and workers use or work around chemicals or hazardous products such as on the first day of work, a worker assigned to a new position, or using chemicals or hazardous products for the first time. WHMIS 2015 training includes information found on a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), location of the SDS on the farm, information on supplier and workplace labels, procedures for the safe storage, handling, use, and disposal of hazardous products or chemicals as well as procedures for emergency response or exposure to the hazardous product or chemical.
Once training is conducted, farmers, check that workers understand the training and can apply the training in the workplace. Workers can be given written or oral tests, or can do a demonstration to show you what they have learned in training. Conduct refresher training when conditions in the workplace change, chemicals or hazardous products have changed, evaluations indicate that training is inadequate, or that previous training is no longer effective.
WHMIS training improves hazard communication which will in turn improve on-farm sustainability.
Have you been using the Farm Sustainability Assessment throughout this series? How are you scoring in the area of health and safety so far? If you have been participating so far, and are using the series to build a stronger health and safety plan, you are probably scoring quite high. There is still a bit more we can do to engage our workers, assess risk, and control hazards.