Minor Back Pain Now May Become a Big Problem Later!

What may seem like minor events of back pain from improper lifting techniques and poor physical fitness in a physically demanding job on the farm can lead to major back problems in the future.   From uneven terrain, to the heavy lifting, handling livestock, and harvesting by hand. Strains and sprains can occur with poor posture, lifting heavy and/or awkward loads, carrying heavy loads away from the body, falls from height, slips & trips, and more.   Small farms often don’t have the extra hands or machinery to help with the heavy lifting which may leave these farmers more at risk for back injuries.

Over time, the stress and strain on the back can cause damage and the damage builds up without being noticed. Then one day you make a lift or turn to reach for something and suddenly you have a serious back problem.  By preventing minor back injuries on a regular basis, you may head off a serious back problem in the future.

Keeping good posture and maintaining the natural curves in the back while you work is key in preventing strains and sprains.  Maintain posture while sitting or standing.   While sitting, ensure the back is supported.  Check that seats in farm machinery are properly adjusted.  You may need to add cushions or pads to maintain good posture and support.  While standing, periodically lift one foot off the floor and rest it on an object a few inches off the floor.  This helps ease pressure on the spine.  Switch feet throughout the day.  Periodically take breaks from your seated and standing positions.

Poor physical fitness can also contribute to an unhealthy back and contribute to injuries as well. Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles, specifically the muscles in the back and abdomen.  Exercising to increase flexibility is also the key to back health. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and sufficient exercise can help prevent back strain.

You may be thinking there are just not enough hours in the day on the farm to include an exercise regime.  Try and be creative by including the exercises as part of the work and tasks done on the farm.  It may take a bit of time to figure it out, but the investment will pay off in the long run by having a strong and healthy back in your later years.

Every time you lift incorrectly or use poor posture, you may be contributing to a future back injury.

Here are a few reminders for proper lifting technique:




Preparing for a Hurricane on farm

In Nova Scotia, hurricane and tropical storm season is upon us.  The Canadian Hurricane Center is predicting a more active hurricane season due to the Atlantic waters being a few degrees warmer than normal.  The warmer waters foster storm development.   After suffering a very dry growing season, strong winds can have a devastating effect on crops with shallow root systems.  It is key to be prepared for such events.

Measures to Take to Minimize Losses:

  1. If possible, harvest crops.
  2. Turn off power to areas on the farm which do not require power during the storm.
  3. Put away machinery, tools and equipment and anything that could be damaged by flying objects.
  4. Put away or secure things that could become flying objects in the strong winds.
  5. Clear waterways of any debris such as drains and manholes.
  6. Move livestock to secure area or higher ground.
  7. Structural assessment of all buildings and reinforce and secure weak areas.
  8. Board up windows.
  9. Add sandbags to prevent flooding.

Here are some hints and tips to be prepared this hurricane season:

  1. Have a written emergency response plan for all farm operations to include evacuation for livestock.
  2. Keep emergency equipment on hand such as fire extinguisher, first aid kits, eye wash stations, flashlights and lanterns, and communication devices such as cell phone, battery powered radio or crank radio with spare batteries or cordless battery pack charger.
  3. Have an Emergency Phone Numbers list on hand. Use Farm Safety’s template to prepare your own.  May want to include neighbours phone numbers of who can help out on farm, if needed and to check in to see if others can use your help.
  4. Note government assistance programs available to help with disaster recovery.
  5. Fuel up vehicles, machinery and equipment and have spare fuel available.
  6. Emergency building materials available such as plastic sheeting & lumber.
  7. Prepare livestock trailers for travel.
  8. Ample feed and water supply for people and livestock.  Have enough hay, feed, and health-care supplies for one to two weeks. Feed stores may not be open for business for a week or more after a storm.
  9. Take inventory of your farm.  Use a video camera to record or take photos.
  10. Re-familiarize yourself with your crop insurance policy and coverage options as well as home, farm and vehicle insurance policies.
  11. Have required records to file an insurance claim for crops, farm buildings, vehicles or equipment.
  12. Check to ensure generators are ready and in working order.  Run generators regularly to ensure that they function properly.
  13. Make sure chainsaws are in good working order and stock up on mixed fuel.
  14. Locate chains and check winches for tree movement off fences and buildings.
  15. Stock up on fence-repair materials: wire, posts, and staples.
  16. Prescriptions and medications needed for yourself and livestock.
  17. Have available qualified first aiders.


Click to access planningforandrespondingtodisastersincanada.pdf

The Power of Generator Hazards

As farms become more and more automated and they depend on electricity to do their day to day chores, a backup supply of electricity is essential if there is a power outage.  A back up power supply can be essential in sustaining life of livestock and plants by providing a power source for robotic milking systems for dairy producers to providing lights, heat and irrigation for greenhouse operations.  Not only do generators sustain life on the farm they can also take life due to fire and carbon monoxide hazards.

Common causes of power outages in Nova Scotia are most often weather related such as heavy rain, freezing, rain, ice storms, heavy snow, flooding, and hurricane force winds.

Only fully-trained, qualified and authorized personnel should perform any work on generators and electrical systems. Generators can be wired directly into a building’s existing electrical system. Safeguards are in place to prevent surges. Some generators require manual start up when the power goes out. Only trained and competent workers should be in charge of manual start up.

Portable generators also are used for powering essential equipment during power outages, both in the home and on the farm. Improper installation and use can endanger cause serious injury or death.

Best Practice for Portable Generators:

How to Access National Fire Protection Codes (NFPA)!

Compliance with National Fire Protection codes (NFPA) and standards is voluntary.  However, if the Nova Scotia Occupational Safety and Health Act & Regulations make reference to them, then complying with the codes and standards is mandatory.  For example, the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations references the fire protection codes in Part 4: Ventilation, Lighting, Sanitation and Accommodation, Section 25: Fire Protection & Escape.

Almost every building, process, service, design, and installation is affected by NFPA’s more than 275 codes and standards. The codes and standards, are available online for free.  They reflect changing industry needs and evolving technologies, supported by research and development, and practical experience.  They are designed to minimize the risk and effects of fire by establishing criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation around the world.

One of the National Fire Protection Codes you may be familiar with is NFPA 10.  This is a National Fire Protection Code for portable fire extinguishers which is one of the basic fire fighting requirements for buildings and equipment.

To view the codes, go the National Fire Protection Association website.











To view Codes and Standards for free click on “Codes & Standards” in the red bar toward the top of the page.







Then click “List of Codes & Standards” in blue print when the new window opens up.









A list of all available NFPA codes will show up in a list.  The list is organized by NFPA number starting at 1 and going al the way to NFPA 8506.  We are going to take a look at NFPA 10 Portable Fire Extinguishers.  Click on the blue text for NFPA 10.









To view the document, click “Free Access” which is to the right of “Subscribe to Access Now” button.








Then scroll to “Select the Free Access Edition” and then click “View.”











In the new window, “Create a Profile” to view NFPA code 10.  It is to the right of the “Sign In” button in very small blue print.









Once your profile is created, the standard will be ready to view.  Navigate the standard by using the buttons at the bottom of the document.  After creating a profile, keep the username and password in a safe place as you will use this information to view other NFPA codes perhaps at another time.











If you would like some help with navigating the National Fire Protection Association website site, join the farm safety advisor on November 3rd from 11:30am to 12:15pm to learn more.  Click here to register.

Are You Using Chocks and Blocks?

Chocks and Blocks help prevent run overs., run-aways or crushing injuries from vehicles, tractors, implements and other farm equipment.  When positioned correctly the chock and block can stop the equipment from moving and keep them in one place.

Chock trailer or implement wheels when hitching or unhitching from a vehicle or tractor to prevent a farmer or worker from being injured or killed if the implement rolls forward or backward.  You may need to chock both the front and back of the tires of the rear axle.  It is best to keep the wheels chocked while the implement, equipment or trailer is parked to prevent against movement.

Block equipment that has been lifted off the ground for maintenance to prevent it from falling on the worker.

Lift arm supports on a skid steer are a type of blocking mechanism to prevent the arms from moving while performing maintenance.  Read the operator’s manual for such equipment to know how to use the lift arm supports correctly to prevent accidental movement.

Best Practices when using Chocks and Blocks:

















Reference: https://www.wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Chock-Block.pdf?ext=.pdf

The Dreaded Left-Hand Turn!

It’s harvest time, and there’s more slow-moving farm machinery on the road.  It seems like an inopportune time for slow moving vehicles to be on the road when we are trying to prepare to get kids ready for school, take that last vacation of the summer, and run day to day errands.

Just like other vehicles and road users, farm equipment has a right to be on the road, as they travel to various locations.  We encourage drivers to keep in mind that farmers are out there doing a job, producing safe and quality food for our tables.  Farmers don’t enjoy slowing down traffic either, they typically are not on the road for very long, moving from one field to the next, patience is required or incidents can happen very quickly.

A common collision between a vehicle and farm machinery on the road occurs when the farm machinery makes a left-hand turn, the vehicle from behind decides to pass and the two collide.

Take a look at the tips below for the operator and the driver.  Together, left-hand turn collisions can be prevented.


  • Avoid high traffic times, busy roads, bad weather, and night driving.
  • Check for passing vehicles when making left turns. Do a shoulder check.
  • Plan ahead! Use hand or turn signals when turning.
  • Give ample warning of an upcoming turn.
  • Allow traffic to pass when conditions are safe before turning.




  • Slow down when approaching equipment and anticipate hazards.
  • Keep back at least 50 ft to avoid being in a blind spot and to see ahead.
  • Pass only when it is legal to do so.
  • Look for signal lights on the equipment.
  • Watch the operator for hand signals.
  • If unsure, wait and see before proceeding to pass.

How to Access CSA Standards Referenced in OHS Legislation!

Have you noticed that when browsing through the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Regulations, there is reference to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or CSA Group for:

  • Portable Ladders
  • Protective Footwear
  • Eye and Face Protectors
  • High Visibility
  • Fall Protection
  • Chainsaws
  • Roll Over Protective Structures for Agriculture (ROPS)
  • Lift Trucks
  • Propane Storage and Handling
  • Portable Containers for Gasoline and Other Petroleum Fuels
  • And more…

When a CSA Standard is referenced in the OHS Act or Regulations, the employer must then follow and use the information found in the CSA Standard.  Go to the CSA Communities website to view CSA Standards referenced in OHS legislation.  For printed copies of the CSA Standards, purchase the CSA Standard on the website.  Once purchased, it can be downloaded and printed or mailed to the address provided.

To view and purchase standards, create a CSA communities account.  Click the link for CSA Communities and add your e-mail address under “Don’t Have an Account.”  Follow the prompts to create the account.  Click Getting Started with CSA Communities for a PDF with instructions on getting set up.

Once the account is created, enter the site to start navigating through the CSA Standards.  Here is a sneak peak on how to navigate the site.

Once signed in, you will see the Welcome page below.  To find the CSA Standard you are looking for, click the orange box labelled “View Standards.”












A window will open with icons to the left, scroll until you see the blue icon that says “OHS Standards” and click “View Access.”  See screen shot below.









A new window will open listing each of the provinces and territories.  Click on “Nova Scotia” to view the CSA Standards referenced in the Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act & Regulations.












All of the CSA Standards referenced for Nova Scotia are listed.  It is easier to scroll by looking for the numbered standard.  In this example, we are going to take a look at protective footwear.  Scroll to Z195. To the right, click “View” to open the standard information page.











It opens up in a window similar to a PDF.  Navigate by page number, adjust the size of the window, and how you want to view the pages.  If there is only a small portion of the standard you are interested in, take a screen shot of the browser window and print the screen shot of the page.














If you would like some help with navigating the CSA Communities site, join the farm safety advisor on October 15th from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm to learn more.  Click here to register.

Passport to Safety Booklet

Farm Safety has created a resource to help document and track safety training.  The Passport to Safety gives a brief overview of courses offered either through online or in-class delivery with Farm Safety Nova Scotia or their training partners.   Check out the available Online Training, Webinars and Workshops and Events coming up in the Farm Safety Calendar to organize your training and start entering it into the Passport.  If you have completed courses already, feel free to start entering those into the Passport.

Once a course has been completed, add the date taken, an expiry date and/or notes to keep track of the training.  Refer back to the Passport to Safety to identify further training that may be required or you wish to complete.  Use it as a reminder for when new training or retraining may be needed.  This is a great tool for farmers to ensure workers have the training required to do their jobs safely on farm.

The Passport to Safety is currently available as a fillable digital resource that can be downloaded and added to your computer or mobile device.  On a mobile device this can be saved in a files app and filled out using an app in which PDF files can be edited, for example, Adobe Fill & Sign, Fillr, XODO PDF Reader & editor, Fill & Sign PDF Forms and more.  Printed copies of the Passport to Safety will be available soon.

There is space on the last two pages to add safety training that may not be listed in the Passport to Safety or offered outside of Farm Safety Nova Scotia.

Complete Online Training to Download Certificate!

It is good to see many of you taking advantage of purchasing the free online courses available on the Farm Safety Nova Scotia Website (https://farmsafetyns.ca/available-courses/).  We have WHMIS 2015 and Introduction to Farm Safety in both English and Spanish as well as Agricultural Road Safety and Animal Handling.  These courses will be free for a limited time only so don’t hesitate to enroll today.

Once you have purchased the course, it is important to complete it.  To complete the course, click the link in the e-mail sent with your receipt or your account registration or go back to the website through the link above and log in to your account, scroll to the course, click the course and press Launch.

Once the course is complete, you will need to finish with the Wrap Up Quiz to be able to access your certificate.  The Wrap Up Quiz is separate from the main course and another link to click.  This is the area where your farm and/or personal information is entered and it generates the certificate.











Once the wrap up quiz is complete, you will be able to download your certificate.










If you want others on your farm to take a course, you will need to purchase a new course in their name.  E-mails can be shared but usernames and passwords cannot be shared.

If you have any question about the online training or in-class courses feel free to contact info@farmsafety.ca or call 902-893-2293.


Using a Fire Extinguisher!

Hot dry weather in Nova Scotia and PEI have created the optimum conditions for fire this month.  The co-owner of Mull Na Bienne Farms Limited in Queens County, PEI says they were baling straw when the baler overheated and caught fire. They used fire extinguishers, and a neighbour with a water truck that kept the water on the baling equipment until the fire department arrived.

A similar event on Dykeview Farms in Centreville, NS, occurred a few days later with the back end of a combine harvester catching fire and spreading to a wheat field.  Workers used a water cannon and fire extinguishers to put out the fire, but it later reignited.

Fires can quickly kill or seriously injure a person:

  1. Smoke inhalation causing asphyxiation and death
  2. Severe skin and internal burns
  3. Structural collapse causing crushing or striking deaths and injuries

When you notice a fire, tell the other workers to leave the area using the farms emergency procedures.  Call 911, or have another worker call for help.  Fires double in size every 60 seconds, so act fast!

If you are trained and authorized to extinguish a fire, the fire appears small, and there’s an extinguisher nearby that you feel is safe to use, quickly consider 3 P’s before using it:

  • Path: Is there a safe exit without passing through any fire, smoke, or heat?
  • Proper: Do you have the right fire extinguisher for the type of fire?
  • Pressure: Is the pressure reading in the green?

If all 3 P’s are answered with a yes, and you feel safe; go ahead and use the fire extinguisher.

To use a fire Extinguisher, follow P. A. S. S.”

Pull the pin:

            • Pull the pin breaking the seal.

Aim the nozzle:

            • Aim the nozzle, at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle:

            • Squeeze and hold the handle.

Sweep from side to side:

            • Sweep from side to side to cover the fire.

If conditions change, leave immediately!!!




  1. National Farm Safety & Health Week

    September 21 - September 25
  2. Fall Protection

    September 23
  3. Building a Toolkit for Child Agricultural Safety and Health Webinar

    September 23 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
  4. Farmers Safety Corner

    September 23 @ 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Contact Us

7 Atlantic Central Drive
East Mountain, N.S.
B6L 2Z2

o: 902-893-2293
f: 902-893-7036
e: info@farmsafetyns.ca


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