‘Keep both farmers and commuters safe’

Agriculture Safety Week encourages everyone to respect their role




SaltWire Network


Front Page

Farming has always been among the most dangerous of professions. Farmers operate heavy equipment, work alongside large animals that can be unpredictable, and handle a range of hazardous materials. “Nova Scotia is very diverse in terms of what we produce here,” says Katie Keddy, president of Farm Safety Nova Scotia. “So, every farm has its own unique risks.” Established in 2010, Farm Safety Nova Scotia is a notfor-profit organization that works with the agricultural sector to keep farmers, their families and employees safe. “The over-arching goal is to ensure that every decision on our farms is made first and foremost with safety in mind,” Keddy says. “We also work to make the public aware of the risks involved in the industry.” Along with the rest of Canada, Farm Safety Nova Scotia is observing Canadian Agriculture Safety Week from March 12 to March 18. One of the major issues, particularly during the busy planting and harvest seasons, is road and highway safety. A big part of the mission at Farm Safety Nova Scotia is ensuring motorists and farm equipment operators share the road safely. “Safety is a two-way street,” Keddy says. “Every farmer has a story about somebody trying to pass on a blind hill or on a turn.” Farm equipment operators have a responsibility to ensure loads are properly secured, to display required signage and to follow the rules of the road. Motorists are asked to show patience and common sense when driving behind a farm vehicle, and to remember most farm vehicles are only on the road for a short period of time between fields and farms. Farm Safety Nova Scotia’s One Road Safety Campaign emphasizes the shared responsibility for road safety among operators of farm equipment and the driving public. “The objective is to keep both farmers and commuters safe while on the road,” Keddy says. Planning is a critical part of ensuring a safe working environment. Farmers are encouraged to develop a farm safety plan that involves identifying risks and hazards, as well as the necessary steps to control those hazards. Farm Safety Nova Scotia provides information on who is responsible for what, and what actions need to be taken on specific issues. These range from health and safety meetings with employees and family members to workplace hazardous materials and personal protective equipment. “This plan is something every farm should have,” Keddy says. “It’s your standing operating procedure for your farm.” Safety is not restricted to the physical realm. Farmers are not immune to the stresses of modern life, and so in recent years, Farm Safety Nova Scotia has been placing an increased emphasis on mental health issues. “We provide seminars, discussion and training on a regular basis,” Keddy says. “This is something that has affected many generations of farmers but has really been brought to light since the pandemic.” The profession of farming continues to change and evolve. As the machinery, practices and protocols change, so too must the approach to safety, Keddy says. “We want to make sure that everyone can go home safely to their families at the end of the day.”