Farmers With Disabilities Group Plans Safety Centre

The Manitoba Farmers with Disabilities organization now has a permanent home with an open invitation to all farm families and groups to visit – and often.

The farmer-led safety organization plans to convert space in a large building it purchased this fall to become Manitoba’s first agricultural safety training centre.

The Elm Creek location is an ideal site for instructors to offer farm safety training to farmers, their families and employees, said MFWD co-ordinator Neil Enns, adding that MFWD hopes to attract all types of health and safety organizations. A spacious room suitable for groups inside, and space outdoors to park farm equipment puts it a step above offering seminars in downtown hotel conference rooms, he said. “It just makes sense to be doing this in the country,” he said.

Jill Stafford, executive co-ordinator for MFWD said that this might become a place where farmers could send seasonal workers, and other on-farm employees for workplace training.

Other courses in tractor safety, livestock handling, confined spaces and training specific to the needs of farm women could also be offered, she said. “What we’re hoping to have is access to instructors that have expertise in different areas,” she said. “If we need someone in a specialized area it should be easy for us to get one.”

Stafford added that with ATV usage on the rise, youth also need more than the few minutes of instruction they’re receiving at events like Progressive Farm Safety Days and they see this as a perfect location for offering more indepth training in safe, responsible operations of the popular off-road vehicle.

The MFWD was renting office space in the building until recently. It decided to buy the site after another former tenant vacated. They took possession in September.

The MFWD continues to offer its own programming which has run since it started in 1996. Enns, the Elm Creek farmer who founded the organization after losing part of his right arm to an auger 15 years ago, says his mission changed from farming to helping people after the incident.

MFWD HISTORY

Since 1996, the group’s volunteers have offered support to farmers who’ve experienced a debilitating farm injury, including instruction for adapting to prosthesis and specially designed tools. The group has also helped develop a variety of educational child safety programs. Volunteers are regulars at schools, ag trade shows, 4-H clubs, and fairs, and other events to speak on prevention.

They’ve compiled signficant farm safety education resources over the years, adds Stafford.

This new initiative is a continuation of their commitment to help farm families become more cognizant of farm safety, said Enns.

“We really don’t know what can all come out of this, but we hear from the public the need for this,” he said.

A new resource to be released by the MFWD later this month is a “Safe Farms, Safe Families” interactive CD, aimed at helping kids and developed by technical staff contracted by the MFWD.

The CD will be distributed free of charge to all attending a hog barbecue the group will host November 13 from 4 to 8 p. m. at the Elm Creek Hall. They’ll also be making the CD available at their ongoing public engagements, Enns said.

For more information about the organization, its resources, or availablity of the new facility contact 204-436-3181.

[email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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