Canadian Agricultural Safety Week
This Sunday, March 10th, marks the start of Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW), promoting on-farm safety awareness across Canada. This year, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) is celebrating Safe & Strong Farms, a campaign to “empower farmers, farm families and farming communities to build, grow, and lead the agricultural industry in safety and sustainability.”
The campaign offers a number of resources to support on-farm safety, such as steps that can be taken to create or maintain a safe environment for all members of the family, from adults to children. For many farming families, day-to-day tasks are almost automatic, but the risks associated with these tasks are always present, such as operating machinery, which accounted for the majority of farm fatalities in the most recent CASA injury report. A positive development has been that farm fatalities have been decreasing over the years, with the majority occurring during the summer months, but physical injury is only one half of the farm safety issue.
Mental health has historically been a topic that society has stigmatized, and unfortunately many people have suffered in silence because of this. University of Guelph findings revealed that Canadian farmers suffer from stress, anxiety, and burnout at a higher rate than the rest of the Canadian population, and this issue is made worse since many farmers don’t feel comfortable discussing these issues. Thankfully, mental health has become a primary talking point for individual wellbeing and the topic of mental health has become widely accepted as something that we must work together to address.
Currently, a mental health literacy course, tailored specifically for the Canadian agriculture community, called “In The Know” is being developed by University of Guelph researchers, with the pilot set to be completed in the spring of 2019. The CASA campaign also offers a handful of resources aimed at mental wellbeing, including how to deal with conflict, live with stress and maintain healthy relationships.
As part of Ag Safety Week, you can participate in the AgSafe Ribbon Campaign to celebrate Safe & Strong Farms and show your support for farm safety. The ribbons are free to order and we are encouraged to use them to start conversations about farm safety in our communities.
Ag Safety Week is a reminder that we should all take farm safety seriously and seek help if we run into physical or mental stressors. Farming is a very rewarding occupation, but these risks will always persist, and that’s why this campaign is so important.
With spring soon approaching, the advice from Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is that much more relevant with a busy planting season on the horizon.
Josh Kraemer is Communications Intern for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.