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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Farmers are not exempt from Saskatchewan’s health and safety laws.  The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 and The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 1996 covers the health and safety of both farmers and farm employees.

The Act sets standards for health and safety in the workplace.  It states the responsibilities, duties and rights of employers, workers, contractors and suppliers to establish and maintain safe and healthy working conditions at their worksites.

Because the Act and Regulations can be used to penalize workplaces for non-compliance, it is important to implement health and safety practices at your workplace.

OHS is responsible for inspections of workplaces including farms and farm-related businesses. It responds to complaints, as well as conducting routine inspections. Staff provide assistance and advice to employees and employers about how to improve the safety of their farm operations.

General Responsibilities of the Farmer or Farm Operator

A farmer or farm operator must:

  • provide a safe working environment for the worker.  They must provide orientation to:
    • location of first aid supplies
    • fire and emergency procedures
    • prohibited or restricted areas
    • chemical and physical hazards
  • ensure that each worker understands and complies with the provisions of the Act and the Regulations
  • provide hazard information - ensure that the worker understands the potential hazards, and the precautions that must be taken to avoid the risk of injury or illness associated with their daily work tasks
  • ensure that training for workers includes:
    • knowledge about workplace hazards and any other information needed to keep them safe
    • explanation of safe work procedures and practical demonstrations by the worker that they have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills
  • supervise the worker.  This means monitoring the worker's activities to ensure s/he is working safely and being available to assist and answer any questions.  Usually more supervision is needed when a worker is undertaking new or hazardous tasks.
  • identify who the boss is (i.e. If multiple family members are involved in the farming operation, who does the worker answer to? )
  • inform the worker of their own responsibility to follow safe work practices, use the safety equipment provided and bring any unsafe equipment or condition to the attention of the employer
  • keep in place and maintain all safety shields, safety latches and safety devices
  • discuss safe work practises (the how & why) for each work related activity
  • establish a clearly understood communication plan (i.e. work progress checks, employer assistance & availability)
  • openly discuss work practises and remain open for questions & acknowledge suggestions for improvement from worker
  • supply personal protective equipment (PPE) and discuss safe handling of chemicals and controlled products and instruct the worker in PPE use, maintenance and requirement to use/wear PPE
  • report fatal incidents, serious injuries and dangerous occurrences to the nearest Occupational Health and Safety office
  • if conflicts arise, attempt prompt resolutions to avoid unnecessary stress
  • consider insurance coverage (WCB or private insurance)

General Responsibilities of the Farm Worker

A farm worker must:

  • must cooperate with the employer in the discharge of the employer's responsibilities
  • must conduct himself at work in a safe and responsible manner
  • has the right to refuse any work perceived as unusually dangerous
  • must use the safeguards, safety appliances and personal protective equipment (PPE) or devices provided pursuant to the regulations in force under the authority of The Act
  • must bring to the farmer's attention any concerns for health & safety
  • must wear PPE provided by employer and ask for PPE to be provided if it is not made readily available
  • should ask for a tour of the farm prior to commencing work
  • should clearly understand who is the boss (i.e. If multiple family members are involved in the farming operation, who does the worker answer to?)
  • should ask if not clear on workplace procedures to ensure that training is done properly and before proceeding
  • should clearly understand the communication plan (i.e. work progress checks, employer assistance & availability)
  • should clearly understand the terms of employment
  • may ask if employer has insurance coverage
Related Links

Saskatchewan people can now access read-only versions of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards through View Access - a pilot project aimed at providing easy access to CSA occupational health and safety standards. View Access will help employers in our province and across Canada comply with health and safety legislation and contribute to an overall culture of health and safety.

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