Coping with Isolation and Loneliness

On February 9th over the lunch hour, Jesse Adams joined us from Howatt HR to talk about coping with isolation and loneliness.  Whether living in isolated rural locations of Nova Scotia or feeling the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, can leave us with the feeling of isolation and loneliness.

Jesse reminded us that we are just like batteries, we can be anywhere from charged to empty on any given day.  Personal and situational stressors can drain our battery such as stress, burnout, anxiety, weather, chronic issues, workload, distrust, depression, injuries, and incidents.

You need to intentionally recharge your battery by prioritizing sleep, being active, eating fruits and vegetables and finding a connection rather than self-medicating.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added additional stressors to our daily activities such as being restricted to our homes and farms, limited or no social gatherings, restricted access to regular services, COVID-19 protocols, and fear of becoming ill.  These may also increase our feeling of isolation and loneliness.

We as human beings, need a social connection to feel as though we are cared for, valued and as a part of a group or community.  We are programmed to focus on social thinking such as interpreting others thoughts and feelings.  Where there is a lack of social connection, research has shown that we are more vulnerable to disease and death above and beyond traditional risk factors.

Isolation is the perceived barriers to making social connections such as technology, self-confidence, mental health, work, and personality.

Loneliness are feelings caused by perceived inadequacy of social connections.


If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of isolation and loneliness, perhaps the following tips may help cope with those feelings:

  • Positive self-talk
  • Be aware of how you show up
  • Leverage support systems
  • Be clear: loneliness is a feeling not a fact.

A few tips that may help others that are experiencing signs and symptoms of isolation and loneliness include:

  • Make time to connect
  • Practice humility
  • Don’t assume
  • Ask questions

Join us March 18th for another lunch hour micro-skill from 11:30am – 12:00pm, Navigating Crisis.  To register e-mail or call 902-957-2785.

For additional micro-skills in Maintaining Mental Fitness, visit the Farm Safety Nova Scotia COVID-19 webpage

If you feel you are struggling with the feeling of isolation and loneliness, reach out to the Farm Family Support Center at 1-844-880-9142 it is confidential and immediate support is available 24/7/365.

Alternatively, the Mental Health Crisis line is available 24/7/365 by calling 1-888-429-8167.






Do You Require a Farm Safety Plan?

The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act outlines the requirement for a farm safety plan.   Section 28(1) of the OHS Act, states that if there are more than 20 employees regularly employed or if an OHS officer has given an order to have a plan, then a written farm safety plan is required.  Section 28(2) of the OHS Act, outlines what needs to be included in the plan.

For farms with 5 or more employees regularly employed, they are required to have an Occupational Health and Safety Policy or if an OHS officer has given an order to have a policy.  This falls under Section 27(1) of the OHS Act.  Section 27(2) states the required contents of the policy.

There is more to it:

With that said, there are other areas of the OHS Act that require compliance which are often included in a farm safety plan such as terms of reference for the health and safety committee or representative, communication information, workplace monitoring, measurements and tests, chemical safety, accidents, and the regulations.

Referring to the regulations there are six if you will:  OHS General Regulations and OHS Workplace Regulations as well as First Aid Regulations, Violence in the Workplace Regulations, Smoke Free Places Act & Regulations, and WHMIS Regulations.

Applicable parts of the Regulations require written programs to show compliance and those parts will depend on the scope of work done on the farm.  For example, the OHS General Regulations includes but not limited to PPE, Handling & Storage of Material, Lock Out, Hoists and Mobile Equipment, Mechanical Safety, Tools, Electrical Safety, and Premises and Building Safety, Construction and Demolition.  The OHS Workplace Regulations includes but not limited to Fall Protection and Scaffolds and Other Elevated Work Platforms.

Instead of trying to piece this all together and having components in various places, it is much easier to build one uniform cohesive farm safety plan that includes all of the legislative requirements.


For those interested in building a plan or wanting to learn more, a Build A Farm Safety Plan Webinar is being held on March 19, 2021 form 9am – 12pm.  I basically go through the above requirements in a bit more detail with time to answer questions😊

There is one section of the act that encompasses everything above, Section 13(1)(a) Employers precaution and duty to take every precaution reasonable to ensure the health and safety of persons at or near the workplace (not just employees).  The only way to prove you have done this is to ensure the processes are written.  Section 13(1)(b-f) and 17(3) list additional responsibilities for the employer.

Internal Responsibility System:

Of course, the responsibility for health and safety doesn’t solely lie on the employer but precautions are also listed for contractors, constructors, suppliers, employees, self-employed persons, owners, providers of service, and architects & engineers.

This is all based on the Internal Responsibility system which is an organizational approach of health and safety in which each level of the organization is responsible for the health and safety of persons at or near the workplace.  Everyone plays a role in preventing incident and injury on the farm.

Most employers have a tendency to read only Section 27 & 28 and absolve themselves of responsibility under the acts and regulations until there is an incident or injury.  I have done a lot of case law over the last 13 years and so far, “ignorance” has not proven to be a due diligence defense.

Anything highlighted in blue and underlined is linked to the source to gain more information.


First Aid Training – It could Save a Life!

Is your first aid training up to date?  Do you have workers that are in need of training?

Learn about incident and injury prevention and what to do to help your farm family if all goes wrong.

Do you have the correct number of first aiders on farm?

When considering the required number of first aiders include all full-time, part-time, and casual employees in the total number of employees. For every 1-19 employees at least 1 person should have emergency first aid on the work site.  For every 20 -99 employees at least 1 person should have standard first aid on the work site.  For 100 or more employees, at least one person should be trained in advanced first aid.  Each person/driver in vehicles or equipment requires emergency first aid.

Learning Formats Available:

Emergency and Standard First aid are offered in two learning formats: in-class only and blended learning.

In-Class requires the participant to attend class at the pre-arranged location and time.  Emergency First Aid in-class is 8 hours or 1-day in length and Standard First aid is 16 hours or 2-days in length.

Blended learning requires the participant to do online and in-class training.  Emergency First aid requires the participant to do 4 hours of training online and 4 hours of skills training in-class at the pre-arranged date and time.  Standard First Aid requires the participant to do 8 hours of training online and 8 hours of skills training in-class at the pre-arranged date and time.  The online training is self-paced and you can do as much as you want over a period of time as long as it is complete before the classroom date.  This option cuts the amount of time off-farm in half.

The recertification period for both learning formats is every three (3) years and meets the Occupational Health and Safety First Aid Regulations.

Farm Safety Nova Scotia offers first aid training to their membership at discounted rates.

Emergency First Aid In-Class Only Cost: $70

Emergency First Aid Blended Learning Option Cost: $80

Standard First Aid In-Class Only Cost: $90

Standard First Aid Blended Learning Option Cost: $100

First Aid during COVID-19 is still available even with current imposed restrictions.  The training facility has a COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan in place to protect the instructor and the participants.  Some of the measures include smaller classes, no shared equipment, 6 foot distancing, wearing masks, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and sanitizing the training area and equipment frequently.

Contact the Farm Safety Advisor by e-mail or by phone 902-957-2785 to book your course today.



Power Take Off is a driveline with a powerful means to transfer energy to operate farm equipment such as generators, augers, silage blowers, mowers, grain mixers, forage wagons, balers, manure spreaders and many more.

The PTO driveline goes from the tractor and connects to the implement.  PTO’s can operate at 540 rpm or 1000 rpm.  The driveline rotates at approximately 9 times per second when set at a speed of 540 rpm.  The driveline rotates at almost 17 times per second when set at a speed of 100 rpm.  At both speeds there is no time for a worker to react if a rag they are holding, a shoelace, a hoody string, or even a string hanging off a pair of jeans becomes entangled.

When the rag, shoelace or string is caught on the driveline, the tension on the piece from the driveline pulls the worker into and then around the drive shaft. When a worker is caught in the driveline, they try to pull themselves free but this action only causes them to be more tightly pulled in.

My father-in-law was lucky when he only lost the tip of his middle finger when the rag he was wiping his hands with got caught by the PTO shaft while he was standing over his repair work.

To prevent worker incident or injury while working around PTO, consider these hints and tips:

  • Following the safe work practice for hitching & unhitching.
  • Ensure the correct drive line is used and the drawbar is aligned correctly for each implement.
  • Ensure PTO driveline is locked into position.
  • Ensure guards are in place while PTO is operating and replace guards immediately after performing maintenance.
  • Inspection the PTO assembly as per the manufacturers specifications to identify any damage or defects before an incident can happen.
  • Perform cleaning, maintenance and service as per schedules outlined in the manufacturer’s manuals
  • Refer to the manufacturers manual before purchasing replacement parts. Only use replacement parts recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Never step over a drive shaft that is operating or rotating.
  • Disengage PTO before leaving the tractor.
  • Do not perform maintenance on the tractor or implement with the PTO engaged.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing such as bagging clothes, loose hoodie strings, untied shoelaces, and ripped or torn pants with strings around PTO.
  • Contain long hair and beards when working around PTO.
  • Check that warning signs are posted and legible on the equipment

Take A Break – Word Search Fun!

Take a break and have some fun with this “On The Farm” Word Search!

Working Alone on the Farm

One of the most attractive aspects of farming can be the time away from others to enjoy the great outdoors but dangers lurk when there is no-one to reach out to for help while working in this high hazard industry.

There are many dangers when working on the farm and they vary from commodity to commodity.  Some of the common dangers on the fam include tractors and implements or trailers, slips, trips and falls, chemicals, fuels, grain bins, manure pits, long work hours causing fatigue, vibration, electricity, animal handling, stress, climate & weather conditions, medical emergencies, and noise to just name a few.

These hazards can be very dangerous to work around and when working alone the risk of injury or death increases.  If you get hurt and other workers or family don’t know where to find you, this could delay in getting help and you may not be in a position to help yourself if you are unconscious, trapped or seriously injured.

Knowing that working alone may be an unavoidable part of your farming activities, have a plan in place to let people know where you are so if help is needed it can be dispatched more quickly.  For example, create a check in system.  Have a designate person who could reach you within a reasonable time frame if something was to go wrong.  Set a check in schedule for when they expect to hear from you.  If they don’t hear from you, they will try to check in with you, and if there is no response, go to your last known location to see if you need help.  To reduce the risk, leave high hazard work to when you have help available.

Emergency equipment to have on hand when working alone may include a list of emergency phone numbers, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, eyewash bottle, charger or charging cord for phone or extra battery for two- way radio, extra clothes and/or a change of clothes, set of tools, extra fuel, and a flashlight.

The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety First Aid Regulations, Section 18, outlines the requirement for a First Aid Remote Location Plan.  The definition of a remote location is a place requiring more than 30 minutes of surface travel time in one direction from an emergency care facility that is open during the working hours at a worksite.  The plan should include transportation to the medical facility from the remote location, means of communication, required number of trained first aiders and first aid supplies.  If working alone, Emergency First Aid Level A CPR is required as per the regulations.

If working with mobile equipment such as tractors or skid steers as well as using implements or attachments read the owners manual before operating for the first time and keep handy for any troubleshooting that may arise while performing a task.  Only use the implements and attachments for their intended use.

One way to prevent incident or injury while working alone is to ensure all equipment is in good working order.  Conduct a pre-trip inspection on mobile equipment and follow maintenance schedules as outlined in manufacturer’s manuals.  Ensure competent or professional workers are conducting the maintenance on the equipment.  When performing maintenance follow the lockout procedure to de-energize the equipment.  This may include batteries and hydraulics.

As mentioned recently in the Root of Your Back Story article, slips, trips and falls is one of the main causes of injury on the farm.  When working alone, be sure to clear equipment steps and handholds of grease, mud, snow and ice before entering and exiting with three points of contact.  Ensure foot wear is in good condition and has ample tread or traction for the conditions.

Other tips that can prevent incident and injury while working alone include:


Protecting Your Feet – One Step at a Time!

We learned from the Root of Your Back Story post that your feet can be the root of the problem for many farm incidents and injuries as well as a worker’s ability to maintain good physical condition.  Standing and walking are required for a large portion of the work on the farm.  It can start with foot wear, to slips trips and falls to impact injuries involving feet getting caught, cut, punctured or broken.

Evaluate the hazards on your farm.  What hazards can cause foot problems or injuries? Working with livestock? Slips, Trips, & Falls? Working with Chainsaws? Broken or loose floor boards in the barn?  Snow blower clogs?  Nails or spikes coming out of floors? Contact with electricity? Poor housekeeping?  Poor lighting? Incorrect footwear for the task or conditions? Ground and floor structure and condition? Runover by machine? Unguarded Mowers or Augers?

Consider not only injuries but conditions that can arise with standing and working on your feet all day such as blisters, calluses, bunions, plantar fasciitis, in grown toe nails and just plain tired feet. Standing all day can also have an effect on your back and joints including knees and hips which can lead to arthritis down the road.

To control these hazards let’s take a look at some of the possible controls.

Choosing the correct foot wear:

  1. Consider the potential hazards for the feet, a safety shoe or boot may be required. If so, choose one that meets CSA Standard Z195-14 “Protective Footwear” to protect against the identified hazard.
    1. Safety footwear help prevent injuries from punctures and electrical shock, reduces static electricity build up, and protects the toes from falling objects or anything that impacts the toe area.
  2. Ensure the shoe or boot fits correctly. Too small may cause foot cramping, where too big can cause blisters and slips and trips.  Ensure the heel grips the foot firmly, there is room for the toes, and a low wide flat heel.
    1. Safety shoes do not stretch so be sure there is a correct fit before leaving the store.
    2. Buy shoes late in the day where the feet are apt to be at their largest due to swelling or flattening from being on them all day.
    3. Waterproof to prevent leaking and to keep feet dry throughout the day.
    4. Non-slip tread for the surface walked on. May need to speak to a sales person in regards to the right treat for the surface.
    5. Consider an insole for more cushion and to allow for more shock absorption while walking.
    6. Consult with a doctor if you have concerns with your feet or unsure of the type of footwear to buy.
  3. Check that the shoe or boot provides insulation in the winter and ventilation in the summer. You may need to change the safety shoe for the season and/or the work task.
  4. Inspect the footwear before use to ensure it is in the condition to perform the function for which it was designed. Holes, exposed steel toe or composite, worn tread, and loose soles will create additional unwanted hazards.
  5. Ensure workers wear the footwear as intended by lacing up the boots secure enough so they won’t come off and that the laces do not create an additional hazard.

Take care of your feet by:

  • Wash them daily with soap and water, rinse thoroughly, and let dry. Don’t forget to do between the toes.
    • On occasion use an Epsom Salts bath for the feet to detox the feet, aid in reducing the swelling, stiffness and pain, release stress, reduce foot odor, and increase blood flow.
    • You may choose to use a foot powder. Consult with your doctor for any medicated regimes or remedies.
  • Wear a clean pair of socks each day. Keep spare socks on hand to change them throughout the day, if they get wet or soiled.
  • Keep toe nails trim, but not too short.
  • Wear shoes that fit correctly and meant for the task at hand.
  • Ensure shoes are clean and dry on the inside.

What are you walking on?

Walking on natural surfaces can be more comfortable then walking on concrete but they typically offer more slip, trip and fall hazards.  Slippery surfaces also offer more opportunity for slip, trips and falls.

Wood barn floors and rubber anti-fatigue mats on concrete are much kinder to the feet.  This would be the same with safety shoes with shock absorbing insoles.  Be sure the anti-fatigue mats are installed correctly and laying flat to prevent trip and fall hazards.

Other Preventative Measures include:

  • Keeping pedestrians out of areas where mobile equipment is operated.
  • Ensure machines and equipment are guarded at all times while in use.
  • Do not remove clogs from snow blowers with hands or feet use a stick or pole.
  • Wear boots specifically for protection against chainsaw cuts.
  • Maintain good housekeeping.
  • Check floors for nails and other objects that could puncture the foot. Make this habit a part of the monthly inspection process.
  • Add lighting to dark areas.
  • Mark edges of stairs.
  • Post signs for the various protective footwear requirements for the task on the farm.
  • Practice good animal handling techniques and avoid the animal’s blind spot.
  • Keep all circuits closed in the electrical panel and check cords for frays and damage.





When building the blueprint for the We Talk. We Grow. mental health campaign, common farm stresses were identified such as finances, family disagreements, administrative burdens, long hours, heavy work load, lack of sleep, weather, working in a high hazard industry, working with livestock, lack of insurance, home is work/work is home, and stigma.  These stressors can cause the feeling of being out of control.

Some farmers have learned to effectively deal with the high levels of stress through various coping mechanisms and have learned to become resilient in such challenging times.  Other farmers have yet to discover that it is stress causing some of the signs and symptoms that they are experiencing such as upset stomach, headaches, tension, fatigue or insomnia, change in eating habits, relationship difficulties, depression, anxiety, withdrawal and perhaps substance use.  Depending on your current health and fitness level, the signs and symptoms may vary.

There are ways to take back the control to reduce the stress and become a more resilient farmer.





Over the spring and summer months, Dr Bill Howatt from Howatt HR gave us several lessons on microskills that may help with maintaining mental fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic.  These microskills would be a good fit to help with on farm stresses too.  Visit the Tactics for Maintaining Mental Fitness during the COVID-19 Pandemic to discover microskills that may work for you such as having an attitude of gratitude, feeling overwhelmed, prioritizing sleep, progressive relaxation, flipping the switch, understanding stress and many more.


A vehicle or equipment pre-trip inspection will take about 10 minutes and can save time, money and lives.  This is one important task that can detect any damage, leaks, or faults with the vehicle or equipment that could interfere with the safe operation and increase the life span of the vehicle or equipment.  Most common vehicle and equipment failure is due to overheating, misuse or abuse, and computer or electrical failure.

Use a pre-trip inspection checklist for the vehicle or equipment to remind you of items to check and also document the condition of the vehicle or equipment before operating for the day.  Visit the Farm Safety Nova Scotia website to download your templates.  The workbook templates for The Guide to a Farm Safety Plan Section 3 has templates for forklift inspection and the Endorsement Testing page under resources has templates for vehicle and tractor inspections.

Costs associated with operating faulty equipment and vehicles include:









You don’t need to be a mechanic to conduct a pre-trip inspection.  The inspection may include:






























A daily pre-trip vehicle or equipment inspection will make it easier to identify and manage maintenance issues early before they turn into problematic downtime, equipment or property damage, injury, or expensive repairs.

Farm Safety Nova Scotia Introduces 2021 Slate of Officers

Farm Safety Nova Scotia is pleased to introduce the new slate of officers for the upcoming year. Following changes to our governance structure partway through the year – as David Powers accepted a new job with Sysco and left the board in July, this shift saw David Newcombe assume the role of Acting President.

As David Newcombe officially transitions from Acting President to President of Farm Safety Nova Scotia, the slate of officers for the upcoming year is as follows:

  • David Newcombe, President
  • Katie Keddy, Vice President
  • Lloyd Dyck, Corporate Secretary & Treasurer

“I’m looking forward to serving as President of Farm Safety Nova Scotia, and continuing the momentum that the organization has been gaining over the years,” said David Newcombe.

“This next year looks promising for Farm Safety Nova Scotia, with many projects in the works including our Mental Health Action Plan for Nova Scotia farmers and the campaign that will run alongside. With a strong board and staff, we’re ready to tackle 2021.”

Congratulations to our slate of officers!


  1. In The Know: Mental Health Literacy Training

    June 9 @ 9:30 am - 2:30 pm

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