IN THIS ISSUE
IT’S SAFE TO SAY
A message from our leader
If you need help finding a place to start, our FARMERS CARE level one program will help you to identify some areas on your farm to get started with. This would be a great activity to do with your family as they may have concerns about things on your farm that you may have overlooked.
As always, if you need help feel free to reach out to us, we are your farm safety resource.
Lastly, if you have questions or concerns we are always here to help. You can contact our team anytime.
AgSafe Alberta Executive Director
GROWING FARM SAFETY SERIES 2022
Do I Need a Health and Safety Committee or Representative
The Alberta Government tells us that the new Occupational Health and Safety Act simplifies how the number of workers is calculated and that this calculation is based on the number of “regularly employed” workers. What they don’t tell us is what they consider a regularly employed worker.
What is a “regular worker”?
In some places like Prince Edward Island, they define “regularly employed” as including seasonal employment with a recurring period of employment that exceeds 12 weeks. However, most parts of Canada do not define this term.
What is regular?
Is there a pattern to their employment? Does it happen on a usual or seasonal basis? While it is hard to say exactly what an Occupational Health and Safety Officer might consider “regular” to be, try not over think it. Does the person work approximately 80 hours over the course two weeks every year? If so, this can be thought of as regular for your operation.
What are the requirements for having a Health and Safety Committee or Representative?
- 20 or more regularly employed workers require a Health and Safety Committee
- 5 to 19 regularly employed workers require a Health and Safety Representative
- Volunteers and those not receiving pay are not counted as regularly employed workers
What if it is not clear or I think I am in a grey area?
So, what if you vary between 4 to 6 workers, or 19 to 21 workers? What if your 19th and 20th workers hours vary so much your head spins trying to decide if they are a regular worker or not?
Answer each of the following questions. If you can comfortably say yes to each one and to a reasonable degree support each answer (i.e., you have field level hazard assessments, a policy and procedure for handling dangerous work refusals, electronic or documented hazard reports, safety observations, etc.) then you may be alright without one.
- Are employees informed of the workplace hazards and how they are eliminated or controlled?
- Are employees actively and meaningfully involved in health and safety as it relates to the workplace and the work they perform?
- Are employees able to give, and do they receive, feedback relating to health and safety concerns they may have?
- Are employees informed of and able to refuse dangerous work?
- Does your farm have a policy or procedure for handling dangerous work refusals that aligns with the requirements of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act?
If you are still unsure about whether or not you should need a committee or a rep, or maybe you are thinking having one might benefit your operation and would like help with this, contact AgSafe Alberta at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Both employers and workers have a moral and legal responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy work site. Health and safety committees and representatives make this easier though increased communication between workers and employers as well as overall awareness of health and safety at the workplace. They help workers to participate in health and safety and support the 3 basic rights of workers:
- the right to know
- the right to participate
- the right to refuse dangerous work
Whether you have a committee or a representative, keep your focus on productive communication, teamwork, and positive outcomes. Members and representatives help identify and solve health and safety concerns by:
- Inspecting the work site for hazards.
- Helping find solutions to health and safety concerns through teamwork.
- Helping look at the causes of incidents to prevent recurrence.
- Providing input for health and safety policies and safe work procedures.
- Providing input relating to new employee orientations.
- General promotion of health and safety awareness throughout the work force.
When a health and safety committee or representative is supported and given the opportunity to be effective in their role, the positive results might surprise you.
Health and Safety Committees and Representatives support health and safety in the workplace but should not be taking on the health and safety responsibilities of supervisors or managers or taking the place of the health and safety coordinator or advisor, if the farm has one.
Factor in the Chill!
Wind chill shouldn’t be dismissed; it is a very real safety hazard that needs to be assessed and have steps taken to protect those who may need to work in it. Click here to read Environment Canada’s Wind Chill Index Chart and their Seven Steps to Cold Weather Safety.
SAFETY FIRST, LAST THOUGHTS
Best Practices for Operating Equipment in Low Light
Moving large equipment in tight areas or where livestock maybe present is already challenging and is even more problematic as short days can result in work being performed in low light or dark conditions. Some general best practices to consider include:
- Pre-planning the task;
- If possible, delay the task until daylight hours
- Inspect the work area for hazards and remove them before starting
- If possible, finding a way to eliminate the need to back up somehow, and if not, find ways to minimize the number of times that the equipment would be backed up
- Ensure the spotter is trained and able to perform the task safely
- Ensure equipment lights, yard lights or other supplemental lighting is working and in use
- Ensuring everyone involved is wearing highly visible clothing
- Not walking into the path/direction of travel of moving equipment
- Not walking behind heavy equipment while spotting; if you can’t see the operator, they cannot see you
- Ensuring the equipment operator stops if they lose sight of their spotter or someone working with them
- Making certain both the spotter and equipment operator are to focus on the task being performed; this means not doing other things such as adjusting settings, using phones, or eating/drinking
- Ensuring everyone is familiar with and using the universal Hand Signals for Farms
Ensure the spotter is in constant visual contact with the equipment operator while the equipment is in motion; in situations where this may be difficult, having a plan in place and using radios or cellular phones to ensure constant communication.