Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary By Bruce Buttar, OFA Director
Summer is here. That means kids are spending more time on the farm or taking summer jobs in the area or on neighbouring farms. Summer is a great time for young adults to gain valuable work experience, earn money and have fun. It’s also a really important time to be sure you have a safe work environment for everybody on your farm.
Young workers must know and understand what they should expect in a safe workplace. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) encourages parents and employers to talk to young workers about workplace safety, questions they should ask their employers and where to go for help or more information. Encourage them to start by asking their employer if there is formal workplace safety training. Find out what hazards exist in the workplace. And ask where the first aid kit is kept.
Workplace safety and student employees should be a priority, not just for Ontario farms employing summer seasonal work, but for every place of employment across the province. And it’s the law.
Unfortunately, new workers to a job are three times more likely to be injured during the first month on the job than experienced workers. Too often new and younger workers don’t ask questions, or don’t feel comfortable asking questions. A lack of life experience in recognizing unsafe situations or equipment can also lead to accidents.
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), a Health and Safety Ontario organization, has developed a series of resources to help start conversations about safe workplaces, expectations and questions to ask. The new website BringSafetyHome.com BringSafetyHome.com includes an easy two-page discussion tool for parents, employers and other adults to ask young people about their jobs.
Summer jobs and seasonal workers are important to students and employers, especially in agriculture. Have fun and be safe this summer.