A provincial consultant with expertise in workplace legislation has helped more farmers understand their responsibilities and obligations, say Keystone Agricultural Producer staff.
“They’ve really filled her calendar,” said James Battershill, KAP executive director. “I believe that we’ve had 20 to 25 producers on the wait list for her to go out to.”
Morag Marjerison was seconded from Workplace Safety and Health’s SAFE Work Manitoba program last winter to spend the year advising farmers who voluntarily contacted her on workplace law.
She has spent the past year visiting farms and doing individual, free-of-charge confidential consultations to help farmers know what they have to do to be prepared for a farm safety inspection and understand their responsibilities as employers under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. Marjerison has also been helping farms implementing and evaluate their own safety programs.
KAP struck the agreement with Workplace Safety and Health last year due to growing concern about the awareness in agriculture that persists on how provincial workplace law applies to the farm workplace. Any farm with hired non-family employees is subject to an inspection by a safety officer.
But confusion persists in the farm community, said Battershill, adding it’s primarily due to no two farm workplaces being alike. Communicating the complexities of workplace legislation to this diverse audience isn’t easy, he said.
“It’s principally a question of disseminating that information,” he said. “It’s not one simple set of rules to be communicated.”
However, farmers seem to be making the most of the opportunity to consult with Marjerison, and believe the farm visits and workshops she’s conducted have given more of its members clarity about their responsibilities and obligations. Her work has also shown KAP where some of the most significant gaps in knowledge remain which will help it with where its own work in farm safety will need to focus, Battershill said.
Marjerison’s secondment with KAP will now continue until the end of June 2016.
“There’s such a need for her to be out there,” Battershill said.
“We just want to make sure she’s as busy as possible for as long as we can.”
Farmers can book an appointment with Marjerison by logging on to the KAP website and clicking on its farm safety link to fill in a consultation request form, or by calling the KAP office at (204) 697-1140.