Sustainability Series

Part 1: Sustainability

Do you have a plan?  Are you sustainable?

We are a part of an ever-changing world.  You see where you are today from where you began.  How much is the same?

Did you plan for the change or did you go along with the change?  If you plan for change, there is a better chance of coming out on top or becoming a leading member of your industry.  A big part in planning for change whether it be business related or health and safety related is risk management.

Do you have and use a risk assessment tool?  Do you know the likelihood and consequence of various business and health and safety activities?

Create a risk matrix of likelihood and consequence to determine low, medium, and high risk activities.  Once you determine risk, this can set your priorities for taking action to become sustainable.  The more you involve your employees especially during the risk assessment phase and collaborate with them in how to mitigate the risk, the employees will take ownership in their roles and want their part to be a success.   If your employees are successful, your plan will be successful which in turn will generate a sustainable business.

Here are two resources that will help your business become sustainable: 1. Farm Safety Plan and 2. Using the Farm Sustainability Assessment.

Part 2: Risk Management

Becoming a sustainable farm, requires a good risk management program.  The process doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can be as simple as asking “what if,” using checklists, a group discussion, or a job analysis.  To conduct a risk assessment, use the following steps:

  1. Choose a system or a component of a system to evaluate for risk.
  2. List the hazards associated with the system or component of the system.
  3. Determine the likelihood of an incident of injury.
  4. Determine the consequences of an incident or injury.
  5. Identify the risk level using your risk assessment matrix.
  6. Recommend corrective actions or controls to reduce the risk to acceptable levels.
  7. Identify the residual risk or level of risk that remains after the control measures have been put into place.

Do you have and use a risk assessment tool?  If not, use this resource as a guide.

Part 3: Employee Engagement to build a Sustainable Farm

Once you have a risk management system in place, it can be used to set your priorities for taking action to become a sustainable farm. The more you involve your employees, especially during the risk management phase, and collaborate with them on how to mitigate the risk, the employees will take ownership in their roles and want their part to be a success. This is easier said then done, but it can be done. The Gallup study (“The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organization Outcomes,” by Harter et al, Gallup, April 2016) showed a clear connection between safety culture and safe work performance. A key part of this study was the evaluation of employee engagement. They found that the more workers were engaged in their workplace, there were fewer incidents and injuries. It is interesting to note Canada was included in this study. The study showed that there was a 78% higher success rate in businesses with an engaged workforce. The study also showed there was about 70% fewer incidents and 41% less absenteeism. It sounds like employee engagement can be quite profitable! Stay tuned for tools that you can use to create an engaged workforce.

Part 4: Creating an Engaged Workforce

A large part in building a sustainable farm we discovered is a good risk management program and an engaged workforce.  The Gallup Study revealed (“The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organization Outcomes,” by Harter et al, Gallup, April 2016) that having an engaged workforce can quite possibly increase your profit margins by decreasing the costs related to incident and injuries.  So how do you build an engaged workforce who are committed to top performance, excellent quality of work and high efficiency; who believe whole-heartedly in the farms mission and vision and are confident in speaking to what they believe in.  Here are a few hints and tips in building an engaged workforce:

  1. Have a clear mission and vision for your farm and share it with all employees. Live the mission and vision!
  2. Get to know your employees to see if your mission and vision align with their values.
  3. Give employees the tools and training needed to live your mission and vision.
  4. Make it personal. Get to know employee interests, hobbies, and outside of work activities and integrate similarities within the workforce, where possible.
  5. Keep employees in the loop on how the farm is doing. Make them aware of the successes, concerns and problem areas.  They may have ideas to help build up the farm and fix problem areas.
  6. Allow your workforce to grow and support them in their growth.
  7. Give recognition for hard work when and where it is due. Timing is important.  Waiting too long can decrease the value of the recognition.
  8. Listen to employee feedback and suggestions.
  9. Motivate and coach each employee when you see an employee struggling with something or trying to grow and evolve but needs a boost.
  10. Allow the employee to take the reigns and show their leadership skills.

There is no denying that there is some work to be done up front, but the return on investment can be surprisingly extraordinary.  The key, are you committed to building this type of workforce?

Part 5: Fire Extinguishers

The Farm Sustainability Assessment (, outlines the requirement for emergency and incident procedures which would include developing your own emergency response plans to include the emergency response equipment that may be required for each emergency response plan.  Some emergency response equipment to consider would be firefighting equipment.  Simply we can look at the fire extinguisher.  Do you have the correct class and size of fire extinguisher for the work area or equipment/machine?  The correct class of fire extinguisher for the building or equipment may fall in one of the following categories: Type A – Ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, and trash; Type B – Flammable Liquids such as gas or grease; or Type C – Electrical Equipment.  You could also use type ABC for all of the three listed above.  The correct size of fire extinguisher for the building or equipment/machine to consider is the size of the area and where fires are most likely to start.  For example, for a large room, a 10-pound fire extinguisher may be best or for a small room, a 5-pound fire extinguisher may be best.  Inspect the fire extinguisher every 30 days and mark it on the tag.  Service the fire extinguisher once per year and keep the receipt for your records.  For further detailed information consult the references below.

For further information consider the following resources:

  1. National Fire Protection Code (NFPA) 10 – Portable Fire Extinguishers.
  2. Part 4, Section 25 – Fire Protection & Escape of the Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations.
  3. Fire Safety Act and Fire Safety Regulations.
Part 6: First Aiders and First Aid Kits

The Farm Sustainability Assessment (, outlines the requirement for emergency and incident procedures which would include developing your own emergency response plans to include the emergency response equipment that may be required for each plan.  You may also want to include those who can provide help in an emergency situation such as first aiders and in part and parcel with that the correct type of first aid kit.  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.  Use an approved provider as per the Canada Labour Code.  Post a list of your first aiders on your farm.

The First Aid Regulations outline the type of first aid kit required based on the number of persons on the work site.

  • First Aid Kit #1 is for one person per site.
  • First Aid Kit #2 is for 1-19 persons per site per shift.
  • First Aid Kit # 3 is for 20-50 persons per site per shift.
  • A First Aid Room is required for 100 or more persons per shift at the work site.

First Aid kit contents are listed in the first aid regulations.  Inspect first aid kits regularly to ensure contents are present. Complete a First Aid Record and maintain the record for 5 years when first aid kit is used.

Following the Farm Sustainability Assessment ( and the occupational health and safety first aid regulation will help you to have adequate first aid trained personnel and first aid equipment for an emergency situation.

Part 7: Emergency Response

Below are Farmers Safety Rally topics related to Emergency Response:

Part 8: Return on Investment

Over the past few weeks, you may have started building a Farm Safety Plan and governing your organization using the Farm Sustainability Assessment.  In part of those two things, you may have started to identify hazards, created a risk management program, and implemented hazard control measures while at the same time involved your workforce to improve employee engagement which in turn will all create a sustainable farm.

You may be leery of all this, so I want to take this opportunity to show you the return on your investment.  Refer to the Farm Safety Plan Section 5, where you have implemented the incident and investigation policy and now have employees completing incident reports to track the root causes of incidents and the costs associated with such events, if you haven’t done so already.

Direct and indirect costs should be tracked to get a good idea of how much incidents or injuries truly cost and affect your bottom line.  Direct costs are dollars spent and easily tracked such as the actual cost of repairs to property, equipment or vehicle as well as some medical costs and claims costs.  Indirect costs are hidden costs that are not easily tracked such as replacement workers, insurance premium increases, delays in work progress, damage to capital assets, damage to morale and decline in productivity, time spent investigating the incident and implementing corrective actions and any legal costs or fines.  Indirect costs do not have a specific number assigned to them, so they are calculated based on a factor of the direct costs.  Depending on the level of risk for your farm activities and the number of incidents you have experienced, a ratio of 4 to 6 is used to calculate indirect costs.

If you have low risk and few incidents, you would use a factor of 4 and if you have high risk and frequent incidents, you would use a factor of 6.  Between low and high risk, use a factor of 5.  So, you would multiply your direct costs by 4, 5, or 6 and then add the total direct costs and indirect costs together.

You will need to know your profit margin for the year evaluated as well.  If you are looking at 2018, you will need to know the profit margin for 2018, as well as the total direct and indirect costs of incidents and injuries for 2018.  Use the following formula to calculate how much income you will need to make up for the cost of injuries and incidents.

Total Cost of Injuries & Incidents = Income needed to pay for Injuries and Incidents
Profit Margin

Example 1:

This example is for a farm with a high number of incidents and injuries so a risk factor in calculating indirect costs is 6 and the profit margin for the farm is 4%.

Direct Costs = $30,000                     Indirect Costs = $30, 000 x 6 = $180,000

$30,000 + $180, 000 = $210, 000 Total Costs

$210, 000 / 4% = $5,250,000 of income needed to pay for injuries and incidents.

Example 2:

This example is for a farm with a low number of incidents and injuries so a risk factor in calculating indirect costs is 4 and the profit margin for the farm is 2%.

Direct Costs = $5,000                       Indirect Costs = $5, 000 x 4 = $20,000

$5,000 + $20, 000 = $25, 000 Total Costs

$25, 000 / 2% = $1,250,000 of income needed to pay for injuries and incidents.


As you can see from the examples, injuries and incidents are very expensive, and prevention is key not only for financial reasons but to sustain a happy and health workforce of engaged workers.

Various studies have shown that for every $1 invested in incident and injury prevention returns about $2-$6 to your bottom line.  That is profit which can be reinvested into your farm to have a higher level of sustainability.

Reference: Bird Jr, Germain, and Douglas.  Practical Loss Control Leadership. 3rd Edition. USA. Det Norske Veritas. April 2007.

Part 9: Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Hazard Control

Two resources that will help your farm become sustainable are the Farm Safety Plan and the Farm Sustainability Assessment.   One of the essential components of health and safety in the Farm Safety Plan is Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment, and Hazard Control.

Section 3 of the Farm Safety Plan has resources on assessing the work area to identify hazards, evaluating the hazards for risk, and implementing hazard control measures to mitigate the risk to ensure there is very little residual risk.  For example, section 3:6 includes a job hazard analysis form to layout the steps of a job or task to highlight the critical job tasks or hazards associated with the work performed.

Section 3:4 includes a hazard identification form to write down the identified hazards.  It includes an area for your risk rating and space to write in the types of hazard controls to use to mitigate the risk.  Section 3:7 and section 3:10 provide tools on risk assessment and a more detailed description of the hazard identification and control process.

Hazard identification, risk assessment, and hazard control are key activities in preventing losses in relation to incident, illness, and injury during your day to day activities thus increasing your farm sustainability.

Part 10: Orientation & Training

In part of building a sustainable farm series, we have looked at employee engagement and return on investment.  A big part of building a sustainable farm is giving employees the tools they need to help you get there.  Training is typically the delivery method to give employees the tools they need to be successful in completing their day to day tasks but also live your farms mission and vision.

The Farm Sustainability Assessment in section FSA100 asks, “Do you organize regular health and safety training for all permanent and temporary workers, including the farmer?”  Section 4:5 of the Farm Safety Plan gives information on orientation and training with section 4:6 giving a resource for building a training plan and developing a training matrix.   The orientation is a great way to start employee training.  The orientation gives an overall introduction of the operation of the farm, the workers rights and responsibilities under occupational health and safety legislation, a communication process for health and safety, a hazard identification, risk assessment and hazard control process, an overview of safe work practices and safe job procedures to performing hazardous tasks, incident reporting procedures, and emergency preparedness to include evacuation, emergency equipment, and emergency response plans.

Further to the orientation, training may include first aid, WHMIS, forklift, confined space, fall protection, chainsaw, Lockout/Tagout, OHS committee, safety program management and OHS Legislation courses.  Visit the Farm Safety Website by clicking the following link ( to view and sign up for courses that may be of benefit in building a competent work force and in turn a sustainable farm.  If preferred, phone 902-893-2203 to ask about courses offered with Farm Safety Nova Scotia.

Part 11: Safe Work Practices and Written Work Procedures

Further to our focus on safety orientation and training in building a sustainable farm, safe work practices and written work procedures are a key resource to be used when employees perform hazardous tasks such as operating a forklift, tractor, and/or skid steer, applying pesticides, using elevated work platforms, and refueling equipment.  Safe work practices and written work procedures are a type of administrative hazard control.  Once you have identified the hazardous tasks on your farm, and performed a risk assessment, developing a safe work practice and written work procedure is part of the hazard control process for that particular task.

Section 4  of the Farm Safety Plan speaks to the development of safe work practices and written work procedures.  Section 4:4 of the workbook gives examples of safe work practices and written work procedures that you may be able to adopt and adapt for the operations on your farm.  Safe work practices are the do’s and don’ts of the hazardous tasks.   Written work procedures are the step by step instructions on how to perform the hazardous task.  More detail should be listed in the written work procedure for tasks that have been evaluated as a higher risk for incident and injury.  To make lighter work of developing a safe work practice and written work procedure, use the task hazard analysis template from section 3:6 of the workbook.

Part 12: Personal Protective Equipment

Below are Farmers Safety Rally topics related to Personal Protective Equipment:

Part 13: Health

Worker health is key in creating an engaged work force and becoming a sustainable farm.  It forms a large part of employee participation and contribution from the workforce.  Ill health can generate many losses on the farm including decreased morale due to absenteeism, decreased productivity, reduced quality of work, incomplete tasks, time spent on other activities such as extended breaks and booking necessary medical appointments, increased injuries , temporary labour, overtime, as well as conflict among employees due to stress of trying to compensate for the losses.  The Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool code FSA104 speaks to regular medical checks for workers that have a higher risk of health issues associated with their work.  For example, those who work with chemicals, apply pesticides, work in dusty environments, do heavy lifting, and find the work stressful.

Health promotion is designed to help develop a lifestyle to move towards a balanced state of optimal health which includes the physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health of workers. Workers are motivated to increase their well-being and will participate in routine medical exams, obtain vaccinations and immunizations, annual eye exams, general fitness, psychological awareness, and strive to learn more to achieve optimal health.

Early diagnosis and treatment can improve worker health by lessening the severity of the condition and perhaps shortening the duration of the illness.  Promoting blood pressure monitoring, weight management programs, cholesterol screening, hearing tests, and screening for other particular illness are key activities in doing this.

Do you have a way to communicate ways to help monitor the health of your workers?  Protect your human resources by implementing a communicating good health today.

Use the following resources to help communicate the importance f good health on the farm:

  1. Farm Family Support Centre: or 1-844-880-9142
  2. Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team: 902-429-8167
  3. For non-emergency health information and services: 8-1-1
  4. Public Health
  5. Healthy Communities
  6. Healthy Development
  7. Provincial Programs
Part 14: Occupational Hygiene

Occupational hygiene deals specifically with health hazards on the farm.  The Farm Sustainability Assessment code FSA106 asks, “Do you undertake activities to promote the prevention of diseases and do you encourage personal hygiene?”  What this means is are you training workers on the health hazards that have been identified on your farm?  The Farm Safety Plan in section 3 gives resources to identify hazards on the  farm, evaluate the hazards for risk, and section 4 gives resources on the types of hazard controls to use to mitigate the hazard and lower the residual risk.

The types of health hazards that farmers and their workers may be exposed to are chemical, physical and biological.  Adding occupational hygiene into your safety program can help reduce work-related health issues such as hearing loss, disease or illness from long-term chemical use, biological exposures from mold, bacteria, fungi and plants, skin disorders, allergies, poisoning, and other work-related conditions.

An occupational hygiene program may sound complicated but it is rather simple.  You have already identified the hazards, know the risk of the chemical, physical, and biological risks, now just check the hazard controls you are currently using.  Are the hazard controls adequate in preventing a health condition?

Types of controls to consider are:

  1. Isolation – Enclose the process or the employees performing the process
  2. Control the process or change the process
  3. Change the source of the hazard such as wetting dust or lowering liquid temperatures to reduce vapours
  4. Ventilation
  5. Substitute materials for less hazardous materials
  6. Train workers
  7. Air or biological sampling
  8. Medical monitoring
  9. PPE such as masks, respirators, gloves, protective clothing, safety glasses, and hearing protection

Preventing health conditions improves worker health and increases life expectancy, reduces the number of workers who leave the farm through injury and illness, lower healthcare costs, maximizes a worker’s potential, more efficient work process and increased productivity.  All of these benefits positively affect the worker and helps the farm become more sustainable by decreasing losses.


  1. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Health Canada
  4. National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health
  5. National Safety Council
Part 15: Personal Hygiene

Like occupational hygiene discussed in the last weeks sustainability series installment, personal hygiene is just as important.  The Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool code FSA 108 and FSA 109 asks, “Do you ensure that all people on the farm have access to safe drinking water and hygienic toilet and hand-washing facilities?”

  • Where do workers on your farm have access to safe drinking water? Do they have clean cups and bottles to drink from?
  • Do you have an adequate number of toilets for each gender working on your farm? Are the toilets kept clean?  Are the toilets easily accessible by the worker?
  • Do you have reasonable hand washing facilities or supplies available? Are the hand washing facilities or supplies close to the toilets and eating areas?
  • Do you supply an eating area outside of areas where food can become contaminated?
  • Is there an area to change in and out of barn clothes or other clothes that are soiled from work?
  • Are shower facilities available if a worker’s skin can be contaminated by a hazardous substance?

Maintaining good personal hygiene will reduce the chances of contracting cold, flu and stomach illness.  You can empower workers to maintain good personal hygiene by having the above-mentioned facilities readily available, where possible.

Develop a cleaning procedure to ensure personal hygiene facilities are safely cleaned.  Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety outlines the required type and number of personal hygiene facilities.  Use this as a guide to ensure you have the necessary facilities and supplies available.

Providing adequate drinking water, hygienic toilets and hand washing facilities will ensure your workers are comfortable and increase their morale.  This is one more step in building a sustainable farm.


  1. Part 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety General Regulations


Part 16: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015

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.

Stay tuned!!

Part 17: Health and Safety Representative or Committee

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.


  1. Section 29 and 33 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Part 18: Communication

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:

  1. Information and reports as directed by an OHS officer.
  2. Codes of practice as required pursuant to the OHS act and regulations.
  3. Telephone number for OHS to report concerns to the department.
  4. Company Health and Safety policy, if required by the OHS Act.
  5. Compliance orders as issued by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
  6. Phone numbers for the persons to contact, if there is an incident or injury.
  7. Phone number and contact information for the health and safety representative or health and safety committee members, if required by the OHS Act.
  8. Health and safety representative or committee meeting minutes, if required by the OHS Act.

Other information you may want to post:

  1. Maps of the farm to show locations of emergency equipment, chemicals, fuels, emergency shut offs, authorized access areas, or notable hazardous areas.
  2. Emergency Phone numbers.
  3. List of First aiders and location of first aid supplies.
  4. Location of Safety Data Sheets for chemicals.
  5. Warning signs for any areas of danger or high-risk hazard areas such as chemical storage, high voltage electricity, confined space, manure pits, etc…
  6. Load rate charts for hoisting equipment.
  7. Maximum revolutions per minute for abrasive wheels or grinders.
  8. Operator manuals for machinery and equipment.
  9. 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.

Part 19: Discipline

If you have been following this series from Day 1, you are well underway in creating a sustainable farm by:

  1. Implementing risk management;
  2. Creating engaged employees;
  3. 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;
  4. Identifying hazards, evaluating them for risk and controlling them to mitigate the risk and lower the residual risk of the hazard;
  5. Learning how safety provides a return on your investment;
  6. 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;
  7. Providing the correct PPE to protect the worker;
  8. Learning about worker health and the importance of protecting worker health;
  9. Learning about occupational hygiene and what it means to include providing adequate drinking water and washing facilities;
  10. Learning about chemical safety through Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System regulations and available training;
  11. Increasing communication on the farm through a health and safety representative or a health and safety committee; and
  12. 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.

Part 20: Self Assessment

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:

Section A:

  1. Health and Safety policy.
  2. Occupational Heath and Safety Legislation.
  3. Health and Safety rules.
  4. Health and Safety Representative or Committee.
  5. Communication
Section B:

  1. Hazard Assessment & Risk Assessment
  2. Inspections
Section C:

  1. Controlling Hazards
  2. Training
Section D:

  1. Emergency Response
  2. Incident Investigation and Reporting

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

3.5 Planting

3.6 Soil Management

3.7 Nutrient Management

3.8 Crop Protection

3.9 Agro-chemicals

3.10 Waste Management

3.11 Water Management

3.12 Biodiversity

3.13 Air

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.