GrainsWest winter 2016 - page 6

Education, not legislation
wager that’s a universal statement. I’d
also venture that if people want to be safe,
they will choose to be safe. That’s because
being safe is a conscious choice, a learned
behaviour. It doesn’t just happen and it
takes real work to maintain.
When the provincial government
hastily enacted legislation that removed
the occupational health and safety (OHS)
exemption for farm and ranch workers
this past November, it reflected a mind-
set that equates rules with results. If
anyone is curious how that usually goes,
just talk to the parents whose toddler is
a fussy eater or a teenager who doesn’t
want to wake up for Saturday morning
chores. Changing those behaviours is
often a painstaking process.
With any hope, there will be a large,
sustained education effort around
farm safety to accompany this massive
paradigm shift in Alberta agriculture.
Alberta’s four main crop groups will be
co-ordinating a number of safety days
this year around the province. The
sessions will give farmers opportunities
to learn how to implement safety plans
on their farm.
It’s only through education and
teaching that you will alter a person’s
mindset on safety because you simply
can’t force people to be safe. A culture of
safety and forethought is not born when
a bill is announced at a government press
conference. If that were true our society
would look vastly different across the
board, not just in farming and ranching.
As long as I have been alive, it’s been ille-
gal to drink and drive. However, groups
such as MADD Canada, Keys Please and
Operation Red Nose still need to roll out
annual educational campaigns to remind
grown adults not to tip back a few and
put it in drive. That’s because humans are
fallible and make bad choices—whether
it’s to operate a vehicle while impaired or
farm equipment without proper train-
ing. It can be said with some certainty,
though, that there’s more awareness
around the perils of drunk driving than
ever before, a trend that will hopefully
continue. This is non-stop work, mind
you. These groups work all year round,
and have even stronger campaigns
around holidays. It’s a slow burn to be
sure, but it’s working.
Unfortunately, farm deaths will con-
tinue to happen, but through constant
education, training and awareness, farm
accidents and fatalities can be kept to the
bare minimum. The same cannot be said
of regulation alone. British Columbia has
been under OHS legislation since 2005,
but the number of accidents has stayed
relatively constant, and, at times, even
increased. The same is true in Manitoba
(2009) and Ontario (2006) since they
implemented their own OHS laws, as well.
Accidents can happen at any time, regard-
less of regulations.
It’s doubtful that OHS laws would have
prevented Alberta’s most recent farm trag-
edies, but perhaps an environment where
farm safety is constantly top of mind—like
the dangers of drunk driving—would have
made a difference.
Government needs to work with farm
and ranch workers on this seismic piece
of omnibus legislation. There haven’t been
enough conversations at this point and
emotions are getting in the way of rational
discussion. The two groups have to work
together to instill a culture of agricultural
safety in the province and stop focusing
on the war of words.
Our industry will be made stronger and
safer in the process.
1,2,3,4,5 7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,...52
Powered by FlippingBook