KEYBOARD COMMANDO – Education, not regulation, is the best to promote farm safety

Mac Olsen

Last week, I added my voice to the growing outcry over Premier Rachel Notley’s controversial Bill 6, requiring all farms and ranches to fall under occupational health and safety rules and to pay workers’ compensation coverage.
This week, I will highlight examples of the Farm Safety Centre’s education program for schools, which in my estimation, is the better tool to highlight and promote safety to children.

Ecole Routhier hosted the Farm Safety Centre program a couple of weeks ago. Carla Richard was at the school Jan. 20-21 to discuss safety topics, with age-appropriate content for each grade and age level.

For instance, with the English kindergarten class, she touted the importance of ‘One Seat, One Rider’ regarding the operation of quads. She also highlighted the importance of not riding in the cargo box of a truck because of the danger of being thrown out and run over by the vehicle.

For the Grade 6 French class, she had students write answers to questions at their level. The theme of their lesson was, ‘Bigger, Faster … But I’m Smarter’.

She showed a video of a girl who went quad riding with several friends, and none of them were wearing helmets.
This girl crashed her quad and suffered a severe head injury. As a consequence, never again can she ride quads or do many other everyday tasks because of the risk of head trauma complications.

Richard provided lessons to the other classes as well, including the Grade 1 students. The theme of their lesson was, ‘To Stay Safe – Play Safe’. She used farm machinery models (toys) to highlight specific hazards. The students also had the opportunity to identify hazards after the book ‘What If?’ was read to them.

Such are the lessons that children can learn through this excellent program offered by the Farm Safety Centre. It’s tools like these – and not the “nanny state” legislation called Bill 6 – that are far more relevant in getting children to understand that safety matters.

Safety starts with the parents, of course, and the lessons are reinforced by educational material like that of the Raymond-based Farm Safety Centre.

When it comes to the individual farm or ranch, the parents know full well what safety issues they have and can reinforce that to their children – e.g., never walk behind a cow or horse, due to the risk of being kicked, and always wear a helmet when you’re going out on your quad to do field work.

Parents know best, not government, when it comes to safety on their farms and ranches.

As for requiring farmers and ranchers to pay WCB coverage for seasonal workers and farm hands, this is just one more undue financial burden they have to pay, especially if the annual profits they make are razor thin, or when they have to make insurance claims for bad crops or the loss of livestock to predation.

As with any other industry or business, farm safety is based on common sense and education, to ensure you’re aware of your environment at all times. Identifying hazards and dealing with them beforehand is paramount.

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