This tweet posted by Alberta farmer Walter Moebis (@Wally_53) on May 8 is about the simple, red, heart-shaped safety stickers, with the straightforward message, “Please Be Careful. We Love You, Your Family.” I believe they were the brainchild of United Grain Growers (please correct me if I’m wrong) and they’ve been stuck on everything from farm machinery and implements to windows, doors, walls and even a lunch kit or two for decades.
Farmers from all three Prairie provinces responded to Walter’s tweet. Dean (@loophole farms) from Saskatchewan posted this photo:
While Michael (@YoungBuckFarms) from Alberta said he remembers one of those stickers on a neighbour’s International tractor when he was young. “It had one of those stickers by the tach. I remember reading it while riding on Dad’s knee,” he tweeted.
Chris (@27Sprint) from Manitoba said, around 1980, he put one of those stickers on his lunch kit while “riding around in the potato truck with my mom.”
Ted (@TSmith1867), an Alberta farmer, tweeted he’d moved onto his grandparents’ farm about seven years ago and he sees those heart stickers everywhere on the farm — like the auger and the quad.
Also from Alberta, Jerome (@abfarmdawg) still has one of those stickers on his office wall and Jill (@Crookedlakecows) found some in a tool box.
As I write this column, planting is in full swing and farmers are working all hours to get seed in the ground and complete the never-ending list of spring farm tasks. I know you know this already, but it always bears repeating: fatigued workers are a significant occupational safety hazard. When you are tired you are less effective and maintaining safety becomes more difficult.
These and more safety messages about fatigue can be found on the AgSafe Alberta website, such as the level of risk for the fatigued worker is very high and is more likely to contribute to an incident. Here are some more facts the organization provides about fatigue:
- Fatigue is among the top five causes of worker incidents
- Fatigue is four times more likely to contribute to workplace impairment than drugs or alcohol
- Canadian night shift workers are twice as likely to be injured on the job as day shift workers
- Being awake for 21 hours is the safety equivalent of someone legally impaired by alcohol (BAC 0.08 per cent)
- Previous hours of sleep can be directly related to occupational incident rates
These facts are taken from AgSafe Alberta’s easy-to-read guide called “Fatigue Management Strategies on the Farm,” (opens as a PDF) or just Google the document’s title. Another story your Google search will turn up is “Fatigue management during busy times on the farm,” which appeared in Grainews on September 24, 2019. This feature is geared toward another never- enough-hours-in-a-day time of year — harvest. However, these tips also apply to the planting season.
What has all of this got to do with some tweets about stickers? Walter, replying to Dean (@loopholefarms) on Twitter, said it best:
Those heart stickers placed all around farms in Western Canada are still out there and continue to be a great reminder of how important your safety is in those hurried moments — even during those crazy, gotta-getter-done times. And, I believe, over the decades, there’s a high probability they’ve saved lives.
Walter suggested to me it may be time “to revive some old ideas that worked.” If you think these stickers might help everyone on your farm remember to put safety first, email ([email protected] farmmedia.com), phone (204-801-1645) or direct message me on Twitter (@Kari_Grainews) and I’ll send you some. We still have a few rolls at Grainews. Former editor Leeann Minogue made sure I knew we had extras at the office for anyone who wanted them — she’s still looking out for you (Thank you, Leeann!).
You’ll likely be done seeding by the time you receive your stickers, but they’ll be there to remind you to put your safety above all else at harvest. They could well be there as safety reminders for years — or even generations — to come.
Have a safe and productive planting season, Kari