Preventing Harm on the Farm


Welcome to Health and Safety to Go, a production of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.


CCOHS: Thanks for joining us. Today weíll be discussing farming safety.


Farming is a way of life for many Canadian families and is considered one of the most hazardous occupations.


In Canada each year, rural families and their communities feel the needless suffering and loss of people who are killed, and seriously injured on the farm Ė with unsafe equipment use as the main culprit. The risk of injury and illness can be reduced significantly by taking preventive steps and safety precautions, and correcting any problems immediately.


Farm owners themselves are responsible for the safety of their workers, and must ensure that employees and family workers are trained on the proper and safe ways to do their jobs.


One thing to remember is that when working with or around farm equipment you should always read and follow the operator's safety manual and product labels for each piece of farm equipment being used. Also, itís important to ensure that all workers (new and old) are trained and are capable of safely using the farm equipment before being allowed to drive.


But training wonít help if you are tired or drowsy, so be alert Ė get enough rest, take breaks as needed and, of course, donít drink alcohol before or while operating equipment.


Now, it may seem obvious, but it is also important to note that you should keep children away from the working area. Anything can happen in a few moments, and itís best to protect them by keeping them at a distance.


As well, donít allow children or other riders on a tractor - there should only be one person on board while itís in operation. And that one person should wear clothing that protects and is snugly fitted so it won't get caught in the machinery Ė such as steel shank boots or long pants Ė and always use personal protective equipment where necessary.


Rollovers and run-overs are the cause of almost half of all farm fatalities, so before you begin to drive the tractor, make sure there is no one behind, under or in front of it.


To avoid rolling the tractor over, stay away from ditches, steep slopes and streams. Also, back up hills, instead of driving forward up them, and slow down when turning, crossing slopes or driving on rough, slick or muddy surfaces.


And as a precaution, when travelling on the road or at higher speeds lock the brake pedals together for single action braking.


Another precaution is to install an approved rollover protective structure in case of rollover Ė and just as if you were in your car, always wear your seatbelt.


When given the task of operating equipment such as a tractor, workers should: take the following precautions:


Before starting the tractor, you should always inspect the vehicle for parts that might have been loosened, and tighten or replace any parts that are not in good working order.


Always place the tractor in neutral or park before starting it, and only start the engine from the driver's seat. Never bypass start the engine as you could risk losing control of the vehicle and possibly hit someone, injuring or even killing them.


Make sure all of the tractorís guards, shields and access doors are in place when the equipment is in operation. If they must be removed for any reason whatsoever, donít operate the equipment until they are put back on. And remember to replace any missing or damaged guards or shields.


Before you service, adjust, clean or unclog any part of your tractor, make sure the engine is stopped and off, and that all of its movable parts are not moving. Itís also a good idea to allow the engine to cool before you refuel.


When youíre finished driving the tractor and before you leave it unattended, disengage the gears and turn the engine completely off. And if there is an emergency break, make sure itís also on.


The risk of injury and illness can be reduced by taking the preventive steps mentioned in this podcast. And remember, tractors are not only used on farms; many of these tips can also be applied to tractors or lawn mowers you use around your home.


These tips also focus mainly on equipment and tractor safety, but there are many other hazards on a farm, such as livestock handling, agrochemicals and hearing loss. †


For more information on these topics, please visit and search on ďfarm hazardsĒ. Thanks for listening everyone.