Thursday, 09 June 2016 10:13

A buzz about learning about farm safety

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When Bill 6 was introduced by the Alberta provincial government late in 2015 many within the agricultural community weren’t happy...to say the least.


While a couple of the bigger complaints were the unknown and yet-to-be-determined financial costs were going to be, lack of consultation with those producers about what the legislation should include as well as guidelines for what farmers and ranchers should or shouldn’t be doing. Basically, confusion extended to what the rules are and how farmers were to comply with this new legislation.
Amy Zuk owner, CEO, and a safety Instructor of Safety Buzz is hosting a open house June 10 at their facility at (1015 30th St. SW) in Medicine Hat.
While she doesn’t want to debate politics or how the legislation was delivered to producers, she does want to help fill in those information gaps in regards on the what, where, why and how for agriculture producers.
“We want to address the occupational health and safety requirements of Bill 6,” explains Zuk of her company’s B-Safe Farm Safe program. “We know with Bill 6, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there.”
Zuk notes that much of the staff who work for her company actually grew up on a farm including herself near Bonnyville. She realizes one of the concerns with safety training because of this is the fact that farming operations are so diverse. There are a lot of specific practices out there due to the fact what a livestock producers deals with, and that differs from the type of livestock and even the types of operations within the same type of livestock. These are totally different from what an oilseeds, grain or specialty crop producer deals with on a daily basis. Zuk says there was a lot of research and planning done, training for the instructors was all of the utmost importance.
“We want to make this fit like a glove for everybody,” Zuk explains. “We want to mitigate the hazards for everybody. 
Zuk says they have been busy building a program and finding out all of the pertinent information on the legislation.
Safety Buzz’s B-Farm Safe Safety program covers all of the 8 elements of the FarmSafe Alberta health and safety management system.
Marci Marshall, who is with Safety Buzz’s Safety Program Management, identifies those elements as being: 1. Management leadership and Organizational Commitment; 2. Hazard Identification and Assessment; 3. Hazard Control; 4. Ongoing inspections; 5. Qualifications, Orientation and Training; 6. Emergency Response; 7. Incident Investigation and 8. Program Administration.
Workers will be able to refuse unsafe work that presents an imminent danger. Safety Buzz's B-Farm safe program will also include farm specific training for workers.
Marshall adds Safety Buzz is offering consultations for farmers ready to implement a safety program addressing requirements such as WCB account assistance, program development, training, on site supervision, worker handbooks, safety stickers and decals, incident investigation assistance, forms for assessing hazards and advice on controlling the hazards.
Marshall adds until detailed technical rules are developed, producers with non-family, waged workers will need to follow generally acceptable industry standards and apply general health and safety principles, such as hazard assessments, safeguarding, and use of personal protective equipment.
While this all costs money, Zuk points out that many agriculture producers may not be aware that there are government grants options available for farmers and ranchers to help fund this training and the people at Safety Buzz will explains where and how to get those grants.
For the June 10 open house, Zuk says there are two main rooms utilized.
In one area, they will be showing off the training equipment, their facilities as well doing slide presentations of what the program will entail.
They have also put together a list of potential hazards found on the farm and how they can be controlled, as well as developed 10 life saving rules for farms.
Besides the legislation, Zuk points to the  statistics in the agriculture industry regarding injuries and fatalities on the farm (see stats below).
Alberta safety stats:
•Agriculture is Canada’s 3rd most hazardous industry;
•In terms of fatalities – there is no more dangerous occupation;
•There were 1769 agricultural fatalities in Canada 1990-2005;
•Agricultural machines were involved in 70.9% of fatalities;
•91.6% of people fatally injured on farms were male;
•In Alberta alone from 1997-2014, there were 331 fatalities, 63 of those were children;
•On average 18.38 people die every year on Alberta Farms, 3.5 of those are children (19%);
For more information in what the government says see: http://www.alberta.ca/farm-and-ranch.cfm or www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/ $Department/deptdocs.nsf/all/aet14540/$FILE/FarmSafe_Alberta_FactSheet_Getting_Started_2015.pdf
Zuk notes that a lot of farmers feel there industry is being unjustly singled out because of the government. She says having grown up around producers, the farms she knows are completely safe. However, she notes education and extra training is never a bad thing and now with legislation in place, she wants to make it as simple as possible for producers to comply.
“There’s an education piece which is now in effect; we want to be that educational source,” Zuk explains adding the have bought the old indoor driving range area in Dunmore. 
They are turning that six acres of land into a training campus for outdoors training such as for skid steers and All Terrain Vehicles.
They are hoping to get that fully operational by September.

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Ryan Dahlman

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