Articles, Blog

Inspecting Farms to Keep Workers Safe | Inspecter des fermes pour maintenir la sécurité

[TITLE: Ontario Farm Worker Safety and Biosecurity Protocols When Visiting a Farm] Inspector:
My name is Bob van Wyk. I’m an Occupational Health and Safety Inspector with the Industrial Program of the Ministry of Labour in the western region of Ontario. [Footage of cows inside a dairy barn] Today, I’m at Clovermead Farms, a dairy farm in southwestern Ontario. I’m going to show you what a Ministry of Labour inspector typically does on an inspection on a farming operation. Before we start a farm inspection, we always ask the farmer what kind of biosecurity protocols are in place on the day that we’re visiting. [Bob speaks on the phone] “It’s Bob van Wyk calling from the Ministry of Labour. I’ll be doing a proactive inspection at your farm this morning and I want to know about all your biosecurity protocols that I have to follow when I visit the farm.” When I arrive, I want to speak first to the employer of the workers on the farm and that’s usually the farm-owner. [Inspector meets farm owner]
Inspector: “Hi I’m Bob van Wyk from the Ministry of Labour. How are you today?” Farm owner: “I’m good thanks. Nice to meet you.” Bob: The Ontario government has biosecurity protocols in place to prevent the transfer of diseases or biological hazards between farms. These protocols are followed by all government workers including those at the Ministry of Labour. Biosecurity protocols vary from farm to farm. Swine and poultry have very high levels of biosecurity protocols in place compared to other types of farming operations like cattle – dairy or beef – greenhouses and crops. [Bob van Wyk removes biosecurity equipment from van] I carry a biosecurity kit in my vehicle at all times. Our biosecurity kit contains such things as disinfectants, clean coveralls, gloves, boots and respirator masks. For today’s visit, before I park, I will be signing in onto the farm property and then I will be parking my vehicle in a designated parking area. [Tractor drives by] When a Ministry of Labour inspector visits a farming operation, he or she is looking throughout the operation to ensure that the minimum safety procedures and requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Act are being followed. One of the things I look for is appropriate worker training. [Inspector with farm worker]
Inspector: “So how long have you been operating this harvester and tractor combo?” Farm worker: “About 15 years now.” Inspector: “Okay, and who trained you to operate the equipment?” Farm worker: “Both the dealer who sold us the equipment and my father, and my grandfather, actually, all three of those trained me.” Farm owner: “Is it important for me to document each time I have trained somebody on a procedure?” Inspector: “…by keeping your training documented, everybody that’s authorized to use equipment gets the same message. Now you’ve got something to supervise on…” Farm owner: “Right.” Inspector: …because everybody knows what the rules are.” Inspector: I want to ensure that the workers on the farm use safe handling practices for the animals at all times and farmers are storing and handling all of their chemicals on the farm safely. I also want to see that the farm employer is doing their very best to prevent slips, trips and falls on the farm. During my visit, I take notes of the things I learn and any hazards that I might have seen. I use those notes to produce a field visit report that captures my findings during the visit. A copy of the report is then left at the farm. Before I leave the farm, I clean my boots and remove my coveralls and put the coveralls in a plastic bag to be laundered before my next farm visit. [End of visit]
Inspector: “So if you have any other questions at all, you’ve got my contact information. Feel free to use any of the resources in my field visit report that you have now.” When farming operations in Ontario have paid workers, those workers are protected by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the farming regulation. For more information, visit these websites. [TITLE:] [TITLE: Special Thanks: Clovermead Farms, Alma, Ontario]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *