Farm owners, operators and managers are responsible for knowing and applying best management practices and laws to ensure the health and safety of everyone who lives on, visits or works on their farms. Read that sentence again. It means you are responsible for the safety of everyone who lives, works or visits your farm or ranch. Everyone. Whoa! That s a mighty big chunk to chew. That s why the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association came up with the Canada FarmSafe Plan. You can download a free copy of the basic core plan at www.planfarmsafety.ca.
The Canada FarmSafe Plan is straightforward and logical. It provides recommendations on best management practices that will help you protect the health and safety of everyone on your farm. Think of the plan as another business risk management tool. The plan s best practices recommendations provide you with guidance on developing an effective health and safety program for your farming operation.
Follow the plan, and you ll be able to develop a program to meet or exceed the legislated health and safety requirements in your province. If you are in doubt, consult your provincial regulator to verify local requirements. Remember, there is nothing wrong with voluntarily exceeding health and safety standards.
The Canada FarmSafe Plan highlights four areas of health and safety business risks for you as farm owner/operator: prosecution; economic loss; commodity loss; and, human resource loss.
Should a work-related injury or illness occur on your farm, you potentially could face legal action at three levels:
In most provinces, occupational health and safety laws are based on a reverse onus principle that assumes you are responsible for the occurrence of an incident, unless you can prove you took preventive measures and actions, yet circumstances beyond your control resulted in the incident occurring.
An injured party can take legal civil action against you if they believe you were negligent in providing a safe work environment or failed to fulfil your responsibilities in exercising due diligence in taking reasonable care to protect the people on your farm (if you are not covered by workers compensation).
In 2004, an amendment was made to the Criminal Code of Canada setting new legal duties for workplace health and safety and imposing penalties for violations that result in injuries or death. These new rules can attribute criminal liability to organizations, including corporations, their representatives and those who direct the work of others.
The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) conducted an analysis of the average costs of incidents to a farm s economy. They determined the following average costs in the mid-2000s:
” Workplace fatality $275,000
” Permanent disability $143,000
” Hospitalization $ 10,000
” Non-hospitalized injury $700
The production of agricultural commodities requires continual monitoring and management. For instance, should you or one of your workers suddenly be unavailable to work, determine the impact on your farm s production cycle.
HUMAN RESOURCE LOSS
There is a limited pool of available farm workers in most regions. The sudden loss of a worker, as a result of a workplace injury or illness, has a significant impact on the worker, the operation of the farm and also on the social well-being of the people living and working on the farm.
In Canada, occupational health and safety legislation places the primary responsibility for health and safety on employers and employees in the workplace. If they are unable or unwilling to manage their own health and safety, then a regulatory agency will compel them to do so.
Remember that even if there is no provincial legislation requiring you to follow specific health and safety standards on your farm, you may, in addition to the moral obligation you hold, face civil or criminal charges if it is believed that you will fully ignored the safety and/or health of your workers or persons on your farm.