Frequently Asked Questions
If your question is not answered on this page, please contact the AgSafe office.
AgSafe (formerly FARSHA – Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association)
Yes! Since we began in 1993, we’ve been guided by our mission statement.
AgSafe – formerly known as the Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA) strives to create a safe and healthy work environment in BC agriculture through outreach and an active program of education, training and consultation in all regions of the province.
AgSafe’s mandate is the provision of health and safety materials and services to British Columbia farm employers and farm workers. Therefore, all of AgSafe’s booklets, pamphlets, training programs, site visits, safety evaluations are free of charge to its stakeholders.
If you are outside of BC or are not involved in agriculture, some of AgSafe’s resource materials may be available on a cost‑recovery basis please contact the AgSafe office for more information.
Booklets in PDF form on this website may be printed for use by anyone interested in farm safety issues.
Yes! There are AgSafe Regional Safety Consultants or Advisors in all areas of the province.
Click here to find your local Regional Safety Consultant or Advisor.
Yes! AgSafe staff, Regional Safety Consultants or Advisors are available to speak on a wide range of topics. All you have to do is contact the AgSafe office to work out the details.
You may photocopy AgSafe materials, unchanged, for non-commercial health and safety use.
You may quote from AgSafe materials, unchanged, for non-commercial educational use, provided we are clearly acknowledged as the source.
For all other uses, please contact the AgSafe office for permission before proceeding.
Note that AgSafe also distributes some materials that have been developed or published by other organisations. Reproduction rights to these materials may vary depending on the source, so please contact the original publisher for permission.
AgSafe is an independent association, governed by a Board of Directors whose members represent BC farm employer and worker organisations.
AgSafe plays no role in WorkSafeBC’s regulatory enforcement, collection of insurance assessments, or the provision of workers’ compensation services.
AgSafe’s work is educational, and aimed at helping BC farm employers and workers make – and keep – their workplaces healthy and safe.
AgSafe receives general statistical information about the WorkSafeBC claims for work-related injury and illness in BC agriculture.
See the Statistics section of this website for this year’s information.
This information is also interpreted and published in each year’s AgSafe’s Annual Report, which is available elsewhere on this website.
You may also be interested in the Canada-wide information provided by the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program (CAISP). CAISP statistics are based on hospital emergency reports, coroner’s office reports, and other sources, and are more representative of all deaths and hospitalizations from incidents involving farm work, not just those that resulted in WorkSafeBC claims. The CAISP website provides regular reports on many aspects of these statistics.
AgSafe uses this type of statistical information to track the frequency of various types and sources of injury. This allows us to focus our resources on the areas of greatest concern.
Occupational Health and Safety Requirements
In 2004, the workplace first aid requirements in British Columbia were changed. Each employer is responsible for assessing their own first aid needs, and providing an appropriate level of first aid service.
As this is a requirement for all employers in the province, AgSafe recommends that you work closely with your Regional Safety Consultant or Advisor the first time you assess your first aid needs.
You can use our First Aid Assessment Tool to help you complete your assessment.
You must register with WorkSafeBC if your farm:
- Is a limited company
- Pays wages to anyone (full time, part time, casual or contract)
- Hires trades contractors who do not carry their own WorkSafeBC coverage
- Uses a farm labour contractor that does not carry WorkSafeBC coverage for the contracted workers
New workers are at high risk for injury, being less familiar with equipment, machinery, and work practices. It’s important to take the time with each new worker to explain:
- Work practices, safety rules, and other general expectations
- Specific hazards on your farm
Workers must know:
- How to report hazards, so they can be corrected promptly
- What to do in an emergency
- Who to call for first aid help
- How to use and maintain protective equipment or clothing.
AgSafe has published resources for employers in all of the key commodities in BC agriculture. An easy-to-read brochure includes a checklist of topics to discuss with new workers and an introductory video.
The brochure and accompanying resources are also available in Punjabi and Spanish.
Yes, in almost all cases. This is because the employer is expected to first do whatever is reasonably possible to eliminate hazards and reduce the risk of injury or work-related disease. Protective equipment is only to be used if hazards cannot be dealt with fully in other, more effective ways.
Workers are expected to provide their own safety footwear (steel-toed shoes or boots), general purpose gloves, safety headgear (hard hat or helmet), and rainwear or other protection from the elements, if they are needed.
The employer is responsible for providing any other safety equipment or protective clothing that may be needed. Examples include: ear plugs or ear muffs, impact-resistant safety glasses, respirators, chemical protective overalls, anti-splash goggles or face shields, fall protection harness and lifeline, chainsaw chaps etc.
To be sure that each contractor working for you is covered by WorkSafeBC, you should request a “clearance letter”.
When the contractor provides you with a WorkSafeBC account number, you can get the clearance letter from WorkSafeBC’s website.
A farm labour contractor must also be licensed to operate in BC. The contractor is responsible for getting this license from the BC Ministry of Labour. The license is for a specific number of workers, and lasts for one to three years.
You should make sure that the contractor has a valid Farm Labour Contractor License, and that it is for the correct number of workers. You are providing a safe and healthy workplace to everyone who works on your property, whether they’re directly on your payroll or not. Be sure that everyone has been warned of any special hazards on your farm.
You may have heard of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS, pronounced WIM-miss). This is a Canada-wide communication system that is based on:
- Worker education
- Standard labelling (WHMIS labels have a distinctive cross-hatched edge, and WHMIS symbols are simple line drawings within either a black circular border, or a red diamond border).
- Access to detailed hazard information (found on Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs, which must be available for easy reference).
Some of the products on your farm do fall under the WHMIS requirements, such as compressed gases, solvents and paints, sterilizers and cleaning solutions.
Other hazardous materials (such as pesticides, products bought in retail stores, and veterinary drugs) can cause serious injury or illness, but are regulated under other programs and laws.
All hazardous materials fall under the requirements of BC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
These requirements make employers responsible for providing the identity of every hazardous material in the workplace, as well as information on its nature, hazards, and potential effects on worker health and safety.
Pesticide use in BC farm workplaces is covered by two provincial laws:
- The Integrated Pest Management Act and Regulations (administered by the Ministry of Environment)
- The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (administered by WorkSafeBC)
Under these laws, you are required to have a valid Pesticide Applicator Certificate if you:
- Buy or use any restricted-use pesticide (these products are known to pose high risks to humans and the environment)
- Mix, apply, or load any pesticide classified as moderately or very toxic to humans
- Apply any pesticide as a service (as a paid contract or custom applicator)
You can obtain a Pesticide Applicator Certificate through self-study, a classroom course, or by challenging the exam.
Visit the Government of BC website to find a course.
An AgSafe Regional Safety Consultant or Advisor can come to your workplace, and do a full evaluation of your health and safety situation. At the end, you’ll know exactly what you’re already doing well and the areas where you can improve.
General Farm Safety Issues
Many farm chores demand skill, good judgement, attention, and physical strength. A child or young person is developing these qualities, but may not yet be consistent enough take on some farm chores.
As well, many hazards, such as chemical exposures or overuse (ergonomic) injuries, can affect children much more severely than adults.
AgSafe strongly recommends that you use the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) when giving farm chores to children and young people. The NAGCAT guidelines are broken down into specific tasks or job duties, such as feeding milk to calves, weeding, operating equipment, or moving hay. For each task, the guidelines ask you a series of questions about your child’s physical strength, emotional maturity, and judgement. By answering the questions, you will be able to judge whether your child is ready for a specific task. The NAGCAT guidelines also suggest appropriate levels of supervision and follow-up for each task and age level.There are NAGCAT guidelines for dozens of specific agricultural tasks. If you are interested in using the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks, they are available on NAGCAT’s website.
Studies show that farmers suffer greater hearing loss than other people of comparable age. This type of hearing loss comes from noise:
- Sudden sharp bursts of noise
- Short periods of high level noise
- Longer periods of moderately high noise
Noise-induced hearing loss strikes first at the ability to hear higher-frequency sounds, such as the s, sh, t, and ch sounds in words, high musical notes, and ticking or hissing sounds. Children’s and women’s voices may seem “blurry” or indistinct.
A hearing test is the only way to know for sure (your doctor can arrange this).
Without testing, it’s hard to tell for sure, but you can roughly judge noise levels this way: stand at arm’s length from someone in a noisy environment and speak in a normal tone of voice. If you cannot be clearly heard, the noise is probably loud enough to be causing damage to your hearing.
Your AgSafe Regional Safety Consultant or Advisor can:
- Use a sound level meter to identify the high‑noise areas on your farm
- Suggest practical ways of reducing the noise levels
- Help you choose appropriate hearing protection for those who need it
Yes, and you must also wear the seatbelt.
How do we know that having a ROPS can save your life?
Farmers in Sweden began to use ROPS-equipped tractors more than forty years ago, and today, almost no one in Sweden ever dies in a tractor rollover. In the years when only 6% of Swedish tractors were equipped with ROPS, an average of 12 people died for every 100,000 farm tractors in use. Today, 93% of Swedish tractors are equipped with ROPS, and there are 0.2% deaths for every 100,000 farm tractors in use.