Farm work is risky business

Farm work is risky business


Last week’s accident in an orchard off Ryegrass Road is proof that farming is hazardous work.

Pesticides can poison you, confined spaces can kill you, tractors can roll on you, and machinery can maim you.

The Oliver farmer was lucky to survive his ordeal while operating a tractor/mower. Kudos to our paramedics and firefighters for saving his life.

While the agriculture sector has improved its safety performance over the years, there are still concerns in the industry.

In 2011, a dairy farmer was crushed after a tractor rolled down an embankment. In the same year, a truck driver was killed after using a bar to release a ratchet strap. The bar slipped and struck him on the head. Also in 2011, a worker was crushed while repairing a flat tire on an irrigation wheel. In 2008, a farm hand died of oxygen deprivation after working in a pumphouse, where a pipe came apart and released sludge.

Yes, the hazards are many, and farmers and their workers need to recognize them . . . every day. It’s so easy to become complacent about your work that you start to think an accident will never happen to you. But accidents are always waiting around the next corner.

In May of this year, a farm owner was using a tractor equipped with a power take-off (PTO) deliver rake. For some reason he stopped the tractor and went between the tractor and rake while the engine and PTO were still running. He got caught in the rotating PTO shaft and was fatally injured.

In February of this year, a dairy worker sustained fatal injuries from contact with a screw auger inside a vertical feed mixer.

Last year two workers were moving a grain auger into a field when the auger contacted an overhead power line. One of the workers was electrocuted.

The sad thing is an average of 13 children die every year as a result of agricultural incidents in Canada, according to Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting.

Farm safety organizations are continually reminding farmers and their workers to ensure they know what the hazards are and how to prevent injuries. This includes making sure you know how to operate each piece of machinery safely, and what personal protective equipment to wear.

How many times have you seen a farmer not wearing breathing apparatus while spraying chemicals in an orchard?

Each farm should have a safety plan in which hazards are assessed, and this plan should be reviewed by all workers on a regular basis.