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Alberta Farm Safety Rule Changes Proposed


Written By: Eric Anderson, Nov 18, 2015
18 Nov 2015
Calgary Herald
JODIE SINNEMA

Farm safety breakthrough

Proposed rules to ensure safe workplaces, protect workers

New sweeping farm safety legislation proposed by Alberta’s NDP government will give farm and ranch workers the same rights and safety protection offered to all other workers in the province.
The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, tabled in the legislature Tuesday, will require all farms and ranches to follow basic occupational health and safety regulations starting Jan. 1, with specific details to be hammered out at five public town halls across the province in November and December.
Until now, Alberta has been the only province that doesn’t apply such workplace legislation to farms and ranches, leaving provincial investigators unable to enter farm property to investigate serious injuries, deaths or even complaints of unsafe work practices.
The new legislation will mean farmers and ranchers must provide safe work conditions and training to everyone doing any commercial work — not regular farm chores — on their property, including children, unpaid workers, friends and family.
“We want to ensure these devastating incidents do not go uninvestigated so we may better understand and help producers and the industry manage the risks related to farming operations,” said Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson, while visiting a large grain farm near Gibbons. “The people in this industry deserve our utmost gratitude and respect. They also deserve the same basic workplace protections enjoyed by workers in all industries.”
In 2014, 25 people died in farmrelated incidents, up from 16 in 2013 and 10 in 2012. Of the 25 fatalities, 12 were over the age of 65 and two were under 18 years old. For every fatality, there were 25 hospital admissions. Sixty per cent of the fatalities involved machinery.
The proposed bill will require Alberta’s 43,000 farms and ranches to purchase insurance coverage to protect workers if they’re injured on the job, and protect the operation if the farmer is sued. Until now, farmers could opt out, leaving about 60,000 workers without pay or access to health or physiotherapy benefits to get them back on the job.
“The important changes we’re proposing would give farm and ranch workers the duty to see what went wrong and prevent future incidents,” Sigurdson said. “We are proposing these changes because every worker in Alberta has a right to a safe, healthy and fair workplace.”
Under the proposed changes to various bodies of legislation, workers will have the right to refuse unsafe work without fear of being fired. Provincial investigators will be able to enter a farm site to do safety inspections and impose penalties. Workers will be able to join unions and bargain for wages, and they will be paid minimum wage, overtime and vacation pay. Such labour rights and employment standards will be hashed out for spring 2016 with room for some finagling.
“We know that harvest, for instance, does not fit neatly into an eight- hour day. And the calving season does not conform to a statutory holiday,” Sigurdson said. “We also know the farm and ranch industry is not the same as the oil and gas industry or any other industry for that matter. One size does not fit all.”

She said while farmers and ranchers need to follow occupational health and safety regulations starting Jan. 1, they will be given time to learn the rules, train their employees and come up to speed. No additional government money will be made available beyond the current budget.
Mike Kalisvaart, who has a 12,000- acre grain farm near Gibbons and purchases employment insurance for his eight workers, said the new legislation was long overdue. He suspects many farmers are scared of being overregulated and having inspectors on their properties.
“I think there are some compromises we’re going to have to make and accept some uncomfortable new rules, but the end result is that I think workers will have more protection and a safer work environment,” Kalisvaart said.
He said accidents will still happen. Children drown in swimming pools, despite lifeguards on duty, for instance. Legislation also wouldn’t have prevented the three Potts sisters from suffocating in a truckload of grain in central Alberta in early October, although inspectors would be allowed to investigate if Bill 6 is passed.
“It’s not going to prevent all injuries, but it’s going to make safety part of conversations in every farm in Alberta and that can only improve the situation,” Kalisvaart said.
John Bocock, an 81- year- old dairy farmer north of St. Albert, agreed.
“When people’s health is a concern, maybe it should be tough and ( you) put up with the intrusion into your privacy,” said Bocock, whose employee was covered by insurance about 10 years ago when a tractor rode over him. “I guess if the truth hurts, maybe it ought to.”
Grant Hunter, Wildrose’s jobs critic, said the legislation is being rammed in too quickly, without proper consultation. He said differentiated rules need to be made for small family farms versus large commercial operations.
Liberal Leader David Swann backed the legislation without hesitation.
“This is good for rural Alberta,” Swann said. “This is bringing Alberta into the 21st century.”
 
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Posted in Farm related news | Tagged with Alberta farm safety policy | More articles by Eric Anderson

Flaman Yard Safety


Written By: Flaman, Marketing and Communications CoordinatorMay 27, 2015
Summertime is fast approaching and the Flaman stores across the prairies are getting busy. Busy stores means a lot of product moving in and out of the Flaman yards. Safety is often a concept that moves to the back of our minds when we have stuff that we need to get done. That being said, it should always be top of our minds to prevent accidents and injuries in the work place.
 
- Safety in the Flaman yard is both the staff and the customer’s responsibility. Everyone wants to be safe.

- Yard staff driving around the yard and moving equipment and trailers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Make sure to look behind you when you’re backing up and always have a spotter walk with you if you can’t see all corners of the trailer.

- Sales staff need to be aware of moving vehicles in the yard when they are showing their customer products or walking from building to building. Look in both directions for moving vehicles and make sure to make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front.

- Shop staff need to make sure to communicate with other people in the shop to avoid surprises. Wear proper safety equipment including safety glasses and steel-toed shoes. Clean up spills and messes to avoid tripping or slipping. Use the proper tools to complete the job and take your time when using the tool too. Saving some time isn’t worth hurting yourself.

- Customers play a role as well. Although as a customer you usually are only in the Flaman yard for a short period of time, acting in a safe manner is important. Keep your head up when walking or driving in the yard. Drive at the posted speed limits and watch from staff members moving equipment. Do not drive in between trucks being unloaded and the machine that is unloading them. Drive safely around so that we can avoid any accidents.


Safety is everyone’s responsibility!

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Posted in Local News | Tagged with yard safety Flaman | More articles by Flaman

What is the NATM?


Written By: Flaman, Marketing and Communications CoordinatorFeb 23, 2015
Before I started working at Flaman, I had never given much thought to trailer safety. I certainly had never heard of the NATM or what they did. I assumed that all trailers were built properly and that manufacturers legally had to follow a list of safety guidelines for each trailer they manufacture. Now that I have done a bit of research, I have learnt that this wasn’t always the case and that only recently NATM has implemented these guidelines. Before 1987, consumers had no way of ensuring that their trailer was safe enough to travel on the roads. Can you imagine if other industries didn’t have safety guidelines? What if car manufacturers weren’t regularly screened for safety? Trailers need to be built properly to ensure no one on the road or the loads that they carry get injured or damaged.
 
Trailers and safety are two words that should go hand in hand. The National Association of Trailer Manufacturing (NATM) is an organization that takes trailer safety to a new level. “NATM seeks to promote awareness of safety and best industry practices and provide a voice for trailer manufacturers and their suppliers when issues of trailer safety and regulation are considered by relevant government agencies.” As stated on their website. This has to have everyone shopping in the trailer market breathing a sigh of relief.
 
As a manufacturer, being a member of the NATM and producing NATM approved trailers will benefit you because it helps you maintain a degree of control over your production process. By following the guidelines that are compiled from FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and industry best practices, you know you are making safe trailers. The inspection process involves an 80-point checklist that is filled out by NATM consultants during their initial visit. After the manufacturer is deemed successful applicants to the NATM program, they are granted a 2-year membership.
 
As a consumer, buying a trailer from a manufacturer who is an NATM member ensures that the trailer you are purchasing adheres to a strict set of safety guidelines. This gives you peace of mind in knowing that you are buying something that has gone through multiple safety inspections.
 

So if you’re looking for a new or used trailer, keep this in mind. Look for NATM dealer associate marked trailers and do your research. It’s worth it. 

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Posted in Trailer Tips | Tagged with NATM trailers safety Flaman | More articles by Flaman