Jeremy Simes, The Western Producer; 15 February 2018
Some farmers in Alberta are concerned they don’t have enough resources and say they need help to implement programs
As Alberta farmers and ranchers gear up for new safety rules, consultants hope to ease their concerns by providing solutions they say will make the new guidelines workable.
For one, a binder on a shelf just isn’t going to cut it, according to Reg Steward, a ranch safety consultant with AgSafe B.C. Instead, he recommends producers equip themselves with easy-to-follow checklists.
A checklist can be attached to a head gate and workers would go through the list before walking in to the cattle, ticking off each item as a reminder and to show the tasks were done.
“The really important part is to realize that a lot of the things you’re doing are right. The problem is most producers don’t have that proof that they did it. These checklists ensure there is proof and that proof is necessary in case someone gets injured or worse.”
But another problem is some farmers and ranchers aren’t sure where to start with their safety programs.
Karen Rosvold, a cattle producer and councillor with the County of Grande Prairie, said she’s worried smaller operators lack the resources to create safety programs, and they will need help from organizations like AgSafe Alberta.
“We need help to build these programs and have them easily in place,” she said. “It’s very important. Every farmer strives to have a safe workplace for their family because most are still family farms.”
While the new safety rules will apply only to farms and ranches with employed staff, families are welcome to take part in the program if they want to.
Checklists are available for Alberta farmers and ranchers at agsafeab.ca, and producers can bring in an AgSafe Alberta safety consultant free of charge to develop a program that works for them.
“What we always encourage producers to do is start small and build the program over time,” said Donna Trottier, an extension co-ordinator with AgSafe Alberta. “They don’t have to introduce the full program right away. We want them to pick the issues and work with those first because that will help improve the safety of their farm.”
Rosvold said she’s glad to know there will be help.
“You’re already talking to your crew before everyone goes out to combine the field. That’s your safety program.” she said. “But instead of doing it all verbally, now we’ll have to have it on a checklist. AgSafe can help with that, so that’s a big relief.”
Steward said these new safety programs can show the public that producers really do care about their people.
“Society doesn’t look upon farming operations with the sympathy they used to when mishaps and fatalities occurred,” he said. “We need to wise up to that. We need to make sure we’re demonstrating ourselves in this area of safety the same way we’ve shown ourselves to be responsible with the environment and with livestock stewardship.”
Alberta’s new farm safety rules are currently under review. Producers looking to provide feedback can visit www.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch.aspx.
The deadline to submit a response is Feb. 26.
[Photo: Reg Steward, a consultant with AgSafe B.C., helps ranchers implement safety programs for their operations. | Photo supplied by Reg Steward]
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