This March, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is celebrating Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW). This is the second year of the “Be an AgSafe Family” theme. In 2017, CASW is “Appealing to Adults.”
What does that mean? Appealing to Adults? Well, statistics tell us that each year approximately 85 Canadians are killed in an agriculture-related incident. These statistics, made available through the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting, give us a snapshot of what’s killing our farmers. Runovers, rollovers and being pinned or struck are the top way Canadians are dying on farms.
What does a death of a farmer mean? How does this impact the farm? The family? The community? The nation?
First of all, the death of a family member is horrific. The world stops. Grief, anger, and sadness all set in. Hearts are broken and relationships are ended in an instant. This is the real emotional impact of the loss. For your family, your death means losing a little of themselves. It means missing those big moments. Weddings, births and graduations. It also means missing those little moments. Morning coffee around the kitchen table, truck rides to check the crops, and laughter around a bonfire. The emotional impact of a death due to a farm-related incident has real consequences for the people left behind.
Second, to your farm, your death could mean the end of your operation. Dollar-wise, the estimated economic impact to the farm is around $275,000. Can your farm absorb that kind of economic impact? Do you have almost $300,000 in the bank, in cash, to cover the cost of your death? Then what? Do you have a plan in place in case the unthinkable happens? Who takes your crop off? Who fixes your machines? Who plans the future of your farm? The cost of a death due to an agriculture-related incident doesn’t stop there at the gates of the farm.
Canada also suffers when a farmer is lost due to an agriculture-related injury. Agriculture is a major driver in the Canadian economy. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in 2013 the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system generated $106.9 billion. Thriving, safe and healthy Canadian farms are a vital part of these exports.
So what can we do? There is great news! Unintentional agriculture-related farm fatalities are preventable. This CASW, make a commitment to your farm, your family and yourself. Start by developing a general policy for safety and health on your farm. Decide what your health and safety philosophy is. Talk about what the objectives are for keeping your farm safe. Share your commitment to preventing injury and illness. This is this first step in developing an overall farm safety and health plan for your operation.
Visit agsafetyweek.ca and check out the resources. You’ll find a template to develop your very own general policy statement, toolbox talks and more. This Canadian Ag Safety Week, a commitment to keep your farm a safe place to live, work and visit.