Dan Trottier from AgSafe Alberta joined producers today to hold a Farm Safety Workshop for producers in Strathmore. This workshop covered topics including Farm Safety Management Systems, Confined Space Awareness, H2S Awareness, and Emergency Response Planning. Twenty-five Alberta Pork producers attended Dan’s workshop.
Dan Trottier is passionate about safety, and he wants to bring his ideas about workplace safety to the farm through AgSafe. AgSafe is an industry-led organization, with representation from all commodity groups. They deliver farm safety management tools, resources and programs for farmers and ranchers in the province of Alberta.
AgSafe’s goal “is to enable farm businesses to take the next step to establishing practical farm safety management programs that will help enhance the development of a ‘safety culture,’ where safety is a fully integrated part of the farm business.” Dan recognized in today’s session that legislation and regulation (regarding Occupational Health and Safety) is coming. However, that legislation should be the minimum standard. Dan wants to challenge producers to become “Safety Geeks,” and consider the safety implications in everything that they do around the barn.
Everyone was given a quick start program to get them started in creating their own Farm Safety programs.
Farm Safety Management Systems:
Dan says that the core components to creating an effective Farm Safety Management System are to:
- Set policies
- Assign and understand responsibilities
- Develop a Hazard Management system
- This is required because common sense is not so common. Everyone comes with a different level of experience. Proper training breeds common sense
- Incident Management
- Emergency Response Management
- Records Management. this is a way to prove due diligence, or identify what went wrong if something does happen
- Auditing and Evaluating. This is how we improve
A Farm Safety Management System should be kept simple and grow from there. A simple plan is more likely to be followed. Once you get started, you might see that you need more, but starting is the most important step.
Confined Space Awareness
Considering Dan’s flowchart above, some examples of confined spaces on a farm would include:
- Grain bins,
- Wells and cisterns
- Tanks and vats
- Bunkers and root cellars
When assessing the confined spaces on your farm, Dan recommends a four-step system.
STEP 1: Identify the confined spaces by applying flow chart
STEP 2: Add signage. Notify others that this is a confined space.
STEP 3: Develop a Code of Practice: Consult AgSafe’s Confined Space Checklist. Create an Emergency Response plan for confined spaces. When working in confined spaces, someone should be watching you from the entrance. That person should be in constant communication with you, and have the same PPE available, including rescue equipment.
STEP 4: Training.
Once you have a basic plan in place, let it grow over time to fit your operation.
H2S is that gaseous “rotten egg” smell. A byproduct of organic material, like manure, H2S can be a lethal gas when inhaled, and it is flammable. Dan Trottier educated producers on what to be wary of when looking at H2S Risk. Different levels of exposure will have different health implications, but even a low H2S level can have long-term effects. The health risks are dependent on frequency, intensity, susceptibility, and duration of inhalation, but it is best to avoid any level of inhalation. Inhaling will carry it into your blood system, with a chance of stopping your heart and your brain. The lethal nature of this gas means that it is vital that producers are aware of the risk by constantly monitoring areas for H2S exposure.
Emergency response plans will vary depending on the farm and the type of emergency, including Confined Space or H2S emergencies that Dan covered earlier. Each type of emergency (wildfire, flooding, electrical shock, gas inhalation, etc.) will require a different type of response. Consider each type of emergency, and develop a series of steps to follow and key contacts. This will ensure the quickest and easiest response to any emergency that may occur. As always, the plan should be as simple as possible so that it is easy to follow and understand.
Farm Safety is a top priority for Alberta Pork. This workshop has proven to be an excellent opportunity for pork producers to engage in positive dialogue and about farm safety on their operations. If you are a producer, and you were not able to attend this workshop, keep an eye out for news on future workshops with AgSafe.