What’s a sure sign you don’t know that Workplace Safety and Health legislation applies to your farm?
Telling the safety officer who’s just arrived to conduct an inspection to leave — maybe with words your mother wouldn’t like.
Workplace Safety and Health laws to ensure safe job sites have applied to all farms in Manitoba since 1977, but these “impolite” encounters between farmers and Workplace Safety and Health Branch officers still happen.
It’s because some farm owners still don’t know the law applies to them, and that if an inspector arrives, they must allow them to do their job, says Keystone Agricultural Producers farm safety consultant Morag Marjerison.
“You have a legal duty to comply with the act and regulations. But not all farmers know that.”
Informing more farmers of their legal obligations and what safety officers may come looking for are topics Marjerison and KAP’s Manitoba Farm Safety Program staff are taking on the road this month in a series of no-cost information sessions.
She says larger farmers have typically been involved in safety training, or have met the safety officers previously so they are more aware of regulations. But often those with just one or two employees don’t know that much about the legislation or even if it applies to them.
“They’re the guys I’d really like to be talking to, because I think I can help them.”
Getting them up to speed on the requirements of the law can also help ease some of their concerns.
“There’s that fear factor there, if you don’t know about the legislation,” Marjerison said. “But ideally, if a farmer has learned about the legislation and made best endeavours to comply they shouldn’t need to worry about a safety officer coming to pay them a visit.”
A safety officer’s job is to inspect all types of workplaces “from restaurants to farms to construction sites,” Marjerison said.
“The Workplace Safety and Health Act and regulations apply to every owner, every employer, every supervisor and every worker, and every self-employed person. That’s pretty much everybody on the farm.”
Complaints about unsafe work conditions will trigger a visit, but random inspections can and do occur.
Forklifts and PTOs
The half-day sessions cover a host of things farmers should know about laws governing workplaces, including some of the most common non-compliant or unsafe conditions inspectors find on farms.
That can cover a whole range of things. Missing guards on everything from angle grinders to a ventilation fan to PTO shafts are far too common, said Marjerison, who estimates about one in every two farms she visits has an unguarded PTO shaft.
Other things inspectors will flag are altered forklifts. They may also request to see operating licences.
“Forklifts have massive amounts of legislation with them,” Marjerison said.
The session is also where farmers can get questions answered about Workers Compensation Board coverage and their obligation to report incidents if claims are triggered.
The Manitoba Farm Safety Association was created in 2016 by KAP to provide educational resources to farmers.
Eight sessions are being held this month including upcoming meetings June 14 in Boissevain, June 19 in Beausejour, June 21 in Steinbach, June 26 in Treherne, and June 28 in Morris.
For more information or to register contact: 204-697-1140 or visit the Manitoba Farm Safety Program website.