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 The Time for Intentional Farm Safety is Before the Accident
Body Parts Injured the Most:
   By Tars Cheema
Thankfully, serious incidents on farms are rare. Still, injuries and close-calls should give us reason to review how we operate on farm, with an intent to prevent all the preventable incidents.
Ankle / Toe / Feet = 15 Wrist / Fingers / Hand = 8 Knee = 4
Chest = 4 Leg = 3 Head = 3
Shoulder = 2 Elbow = 2 Back = 2
A report from Wendy Bennett, AgSafe
Executive Director, summarized the
scope of dairy farm injuries from 2016. direct result of the actions of a cow.
2016 Injury Data:
• Separate injuries resulting in at least one day time loss in 2016 equaled 52.
• These 52 separate injuries resulted in 2,981 days lost.
The injuries were spread across all age groups, suggesting that there is room for everyone to participate in a safety program to help develop safety awareness and protocols to minimize risk.
Sometimes, accidents are more
severe with potentially devastating outcomes. Following are two articles that provide greater detail and insight into how accidents can happen and what we can do differently to protect ourselves, our workers and our families.
•Of these 52 injuries only 15 were a
Close Calls are a Warning
  AgSafe is the health and safety association for agricultural employers in British Columbia. The role of AgSafe safety advisors and consultants is to provide workplace safety education and advice to help achieve long-term safety goals.
By Tadhg O’Leary,
Regional Safety Advisor, AgSafe
Close calls are more common on farms than we’d like to admit. You may have had a few yourself. Close calls can serve as warnings that something was done improperly and it is by luck that the incident did not result in a more serious outcome. The upside is, we can learn from close calls, whether they are our own experiences or
someone else’s.
Recently there was an incident on a dairy farm involving Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S). Anytime liquid manure is pumped or agitated it presents a potentially serious Hydrogen Sulphide exposure to
anyone near.
In this case, as reported by WorkSafeBC, a worker was operating a manure spreader. During the loading process, part of the manure loading chute fell into the manure spreader tank. The worker drained the tank and entered to retrieve the part. He succumbed to the effects of H2S exposure and fell unconscious while inside the tank. Noticing that the operator had not come
out of the tank, the other workers entered the tank to rescue the operator. Emergency services attended and the operator was transported to hospital.
These tanks should be considered confined spaces. Entering such a confined space is very dangerous. The worker and the rescuers could have lost their lives in this incident. Employers must ensure workers do not enter any confined spaces without the proper training, equipment and permission. This incident was a close call that could have had devastating consequences for his business and his family.
Most of the dairy farmers I talk to have their own “close call” stories, those “ah-ha” moments that resulted in a lesson learned. Many have been farmers all of their lives along with their families and they have seen changes in the industry to make work safer as a result of these stories.
Sharing knowledge, experience and insight is how safety practices and equipment evolve and improve. It’s how workers and farmers learn to work safer. Many farmers are educating themselves and sharing what they have learned with their employees, families and each other, so that close calls and incidents like toxic gas exposure don’t happen as often. As a result, there is a new culture of safety happening in agricultural workplaces.
Things to think about:
Lead by example and set the tone for
safety in your operation. Educating your team about why safety is important will help them understand why certain protocols are implemented.
Never assume that an experienced worker coming from another farm knows the safety protocols on your farm. You know your operation best and how you want tasks done.
Communicate with young workers. They are less experienced and don’t realize the hazards associated with the work. Give them a good foundation in safety that will last a lifetime.
Being safe takes work. Be aware of the dangers on your operation – establish the safe procedures and ensure everyone is mindful of putting a priority on safety. Contact AgSafe – we are here to help!
At the end of every day,
we all want to return home
safely to our families and
•Hydrogen Sulphide Gas Exposure on BC Dairy Farms is a quick reference pamphlet that will be mailed out to BC’s dairy employers.
• Read or review WorkSafeBC Health and Safety for Dairy Farms.
• Visit for industry specific safety information and resources.
 By Mark Veerman
Two Minutes
is Too Long
Sit in traffic and wait for the light to change and 30 seconds seem like two minutes. Hold your breath for two minutes if you can - feels like two minutes doesn’t it?
Two minutes is not so long really. It disappears quickly even if you feel impatient waiting for something. Answer a timed skill testing question to win a million bucks – two minutes disappears in a heartbeat.
Time is a funny thing. If you have nothing to do, time hangs heavy. But if you are a farmer or farm worker in almost any season there is lots to do and never enough time to do it. We rush around trying to get it all donebeforetheseasonends,orbeforethe rain comes.
I remember baling hay in eastern Ontario with my Dad many years ago. We would push the speed that we were picking up the windrow and make that old #12 Massey baler work hard. Suddenly there would be
a big bang as the sheer
pin would break - hurry
up! - stand on the
clutch, disengage the
PTO, take the tractor
out of gear, then lower
the RPM’s. I would get
to work digging out
the hay chamber while
Dad would get a new
sheer pin installed.
All the while we would
be watching the sky
as the clouds moved
closer. Occasionally we could smell the rain coming.
When you push time (if that is even the right waytosayit)thatisjustwhendoingthings safely can get tossed out the window. The equationoftimevssafetyissolvedfortime and safety gets a wave goodbye. Hurry up and get ’er done!
Recently a custom manure hauling operator had to retrieve something that fell
into the manure tanker because it could plug the pump. He pulled his rig aside and asked the farmer nearby to keep an eye out while he went in to get it. It would only take a minute. Anybody can hold their breath for a minute. It should have been fine and 999 times out of 1000 it would have been. Two minutes
That operator was my son.
After talking with him, I know that what he did, I have done, or at least other things almost as dangerous. I am sure that most of us have lowered the safety bar and climbed over it in a hurry to get things done. There is even a country song celebrating it – “I’m in a hurry to get things done...”
Rarely will the extra time needed to be safe ruin a crop or something similarly disastrous - yet the low priority on safety could mean a life. Do the math. Where is the true disaster? A couple of minutes to grab that something in the tank. The farmer busy for a couple of minutes. Two minutes could be.... forever.
InourfamilywethankGodforthefactthat many minutes are yet available to our son, hiswife,andchildren.Wethankthefarmer for his bravery in going in to rescue him and we are so very glad that this one ended with no fatalities.
Be safe out there!
   The farmer was also busy for a couple of minutes and when he looked, the custom operator had not come out. Two minutes disappeared. The famer climbed up to find the custom operator unconscious, overcome by gases inside the tank. With the help of his son and another driver, the farmer rescued the unconscious operator. After a few short hours in the hospital he was sent home to his family.

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