Advocating for farm safety (2012)

By Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)

Every day is farm safety day on the farm. But the busy spring planting season demands extra attention to worker safety. Longer hours, fatigue and racing against the weather create an environment ripe with risk and complacency. Accident prevention is part of the solution to keeping Ontario farm families and workers safe while they’re doing what has to be done on the farm.

That’s one of the messages OFA representatives carried forward in a recent meeting with Ontario’s new Chief Prevention Officer (CPO), George Gritziotis. The meeting was to discuss the major changes that are occurring, including Ontario’s prevention services being moved to the Ministry of Labour. It is OFA’s hope that with this move of prevention services we will see a better coordination of efforts and that Ontario employers, including farm operators, will see a more effective system to prevent workplace accidents.

Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer has a mandate to establish a provincial occupational health and safety strategy. He’s also responsible for promoting the alignment of prevention activities across all workplace health and safety system partners, providing advice on preventing occupational injuries and illnesses, and working with health and safety associations to deliver programs and services, and comply with standards that are set by the minister.

OFA took the opportunity to discuss our role in working with a number of issues in Ontario’s farm sector. We spoke about the importance of preventing accidents on the farm, and asked that our sector be represented on the Prevention Council that is being established. We put forward ideas on how to best work with our farm communities and work towards the prevention of farm-workplace accidents and fatalities.

One major topic of discussion for us was the establishment of standards for employee training and certification. Ontario farmers employing workers can expect to see mandatory training requirements coming down the pipe. Our goal is to ensure those requirements are thorough but not onerous and clearly relate to farming business realities. Like many small businesses, farm employers must be supervisors, HR managers, payroll and accounting, and still bring a crop to market. With so many roles to play, employers must be provided with clear options for achieving compliance.

OFA is encouraged by the Chief Prevention Officer’s positive attitude towards working and consulting with stakeholder organizations in the development of safety policies and regulations. We will continue to post updates on our involvement in this important initiative on our website as we move forward. Meanwhile, we encourage all Ontario farmers to keep safety top of mind during this busy season.  

For more information contact:

Mark Wales
Ontario Federation of Agriculture

 Neil Currie
General Manager
Ontario Federation of Agriculture


brian harris says on May 26, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Farm Safety must be something we think about everyday, from job planning to training, to equipment selection and maintenance, to job exection. Finding suitable venues to promote Farm Safety should be a top OFA priority. Farm Safety should be on every Farm Conference Program. Training programs need to be available to assist Farm workers identify, eliminate, or control workplace hazards. We need to be leaders in Safety. If the job can't be done safely, it should not be done. Zero Incidents Needs to be the Target. The questions is, (What steps does each Farmer need to take to get there!)

Rian says on July 17, 2012 at 1:02 AM

In my last, I neglected to minteon that when an adult coyote makes a kill of a lamb and feeds it to its pups, it actually develops a preference for the taste of it which, in turn, is passed on genetically. This obviously exacerbates the problem, and then the whole coyote family has to be exterminated. Not a very nice thought, but that's reality.Good Hunting!Rob O'Gorman

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