Safety Training For Young Farm Workers Important

Safety officials are still trying to determine what went wrong on a Carberryarea potato farm where a young worker became entangled in a conveyor last month, but they say the incident underscores the need for ongoing safety training.

Carberry RCMP reported Sept. 18 that they were cal led to a farm located west of Carberry in the Rural Municipality of North Cypress where emergency personnel were attending to a 14-year-old female who had become trapped between the conveyor belt and the motor support bracket of a potato conveyor.

Police say the youth had attempted to cross over the conveyor when it was in motion and slipped, causing her to become entangled and trapped in the machine. She was sent to Brandon General Hospital with lower body injuries.

Officials with Manitoba Labour and Immigrat ion

Workplace Safety and Health Division are not releasing any further details about the incident.

Glen Blahey, Canadian Agricultural Safety Association’s agricultural safety and health specialist, said such incidents draw attention to the need for all farmers employing workers to provide training about workplace hazards. Dangerous situations may not be self-evident to workers.

Younger workers are especially at risk.

“They can be very spontaneous and they don’t always rationalize in terms of what the consequences of what their actions may be,” he said.

It is not known how much training the injured employee at Carberry had received on the hazards of crossing the conveyor while it is in motion.

SAFE FARM CHECK PROGRAM

Meanwhile, potato producers are anticipating the launch of a new program that will introduce workplace safety and health training protocols to their farm operations.

“We’re in the process of creating a potato-specific Safe Farm Check Program for producers to implement on their farm,” said Susan Ainsworth, farm production adviser with the Manitoba Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives GO office at Carberry, adding that the manual should be out very soon.

This is a Safe Farm Check Program, which about 60 potato farmers in Manitoba have been piloting on their own farms over the past couple of years to make it specific to their industry’s needs.

Sheldon Wiebe is a Mac- Gregor-area potato producer who has been helping pilot the program, and now has a written safety plan for training his workers about safe work procedures and warning about hazards.

“I think that we (farmers) assume that people will be safe, but they need to be told as well,” Wiebe said.

The Safe Farm Check Program will help farmers assess the risks in their workplaces and develop procedures to reduce worker exposure to those risks, Blahey said.

It is “a more structured approach” that will go beyond whatever safety and health training farmers may already be providing, he added.

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Theycanbeveryspontaneousandthey don’talwaysrationalizeintermsofwhatthe consequencesofwhattheiractionsmaybe.”

– GLEN BLAHEY, CASA AGRICULTURAL SAFETY AND HEALTH SPECIALIST

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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