Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary By Franchesca Weeks, CFFO Communications Manager
Family farming is one of the bastions of family owned and run businesses that still survive and thrive in our contemporary economy. Farming creates a special opportunity for family members to work together, and for children to see, and in many cases learn, what their parents do for a living. Many farmers say that they love farming because it affords them the opportunity to have more meaningful relationships with their family members, be that children, parents, siblings, or cousins.
We have had many tragic stories of loss on farms in 2015, and already in 2016 too, even though we are only a few months into the year. Every tragedy, be it the loss of a barn, the loss of farm animals, or the injury or loss of a family member in a farm accident, reminds us of the vital importance of farm safety for everyone living and working on farms.
Canadian Agricultural Safety Week this year has placed special focus on farm safety for children. Family farms create special opportunities for children to learn and participate in the work of the farm. It can also create risks that need to be addressed to keep children safe.
The Ag Safety Week website has many resources to encourage farm safety for children. The site points out that risks on the farm change for family members of different ages and depending on the task and working environment. For children, it is important to keep in mind things like assigning tasks and responsibilities appropriate for their age and physical ability, but also the personality of each child. Children are not always able to problem solve if something goes wrong, or to think through the possible consequences of doing something risky. For any child learning a new task, it is important to make sure they are confident with the task under supervision before they are left to work on their own.
The Workplace Safety and Prevention Services website also has a lot of farm-related safety information and resources. One that is particularly family-related addresses the risks of having extra riders on farm or lawn mowing equipment.
While farm safety is important every day of the year, it is valuable to have a special week to highlight the many resources available to help keep the whole farming family safe on the farm. Ag Safety Week is also a good excuse to review farm safety on your own farm, be that to remind every one of the rules, or to check the safety of equipment or workspaces on the farm as you ramp up for spring. We wish everyone a safe farming year ahead.