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Health, safety and your dairy: Make the commitment

Danielle Pasztor for Progressive Dairyman Published on 31 December 2018

Health and safety – what do they mean to you? Boring training? One meeting a year that is never talked about again? A “legal” obligation? Or perhaps it’s someone telling you how to do your job?

All of these feelings have been associated with health and safety at one point or another for most producers and their teams. However, these feelings are beginning to change, and there is a good reason for it.

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From 2003 until 2012, 92 percent (773 fatalities) of the agriculture-related fatalities in Canada were work-related. Of these fatalities, there were 65 animal-related fatalities, with 45 percent (or 29 fatalities) related to cattle.

Of the total fatalities from 2003 to 2012, almost half of all agriculture-related fatalities in Canada (44 percent) were due to three machine-related causes: machine runovers, machine rollovers and being pinned or struck by a machine component (total of 369 fatalities).

It is important, but how do we do it?

There is so much involved in a complete health and safety program, especially on a farm. It is near impossible to know what a cow will do at any given moment, difficult to judge the abilities of newly hired help and hard to assess situations we are used to dealing with for years for their level of inherent danger.

Start at the beginning: A commitment to health and safety

In Ontario, it is mandatory each employer, regardless of the industry or sector, have a Health and Safety Commitment Statement.

This document is the foundation of your health and safety program, and is what guides the ultimate reason you are partaking in this process on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. The commitment statement must contain certain components, which include:

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  • Employer, supervisor and employee responsibilities must be noted. This would include their responsibilities under the law to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of all workers.

  • It should include that everyone on the farm, no matter authority level or years of experience, has the same responsibility to protect and take part in contributing to a healthy and safe working environment.

  • It must involve the commitment the employer holds to health and safety.

  • Your commitment you will ensure a zero tolerance policy for workplace violence, bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment)

  • The duty of team members to protect their own safety and the safety of those around them

  • Last, who is accountable for ensuring which parts of this statement are upheld

This document must be posted in a place all team members will have access to and see on a daily basis, perhaps in the lunch room or by the time clock.

It must be reviewed annually and be dated within the last calendar year. Last, it must be signed by the person with the most authority in the organization, usually in this case the farm owner or farm management.

Think about this. Take your time. What will you pledge as your commitment to ensure your team goes home to their loved ones, spouses and children? What will you do to ensure their well-being to the best of your abilities?  end mark

References omitted but are available upon request. Click here to email an editor.

Danielle Pasztor
  • Danielle Pasztor

  • Farm Safety Specialist and HR Consultant
  • PeopleManagement Group Inc.
  • Email Danielle Pasztor

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