Alberta FarmSafe Plan testing to continue
By Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Nov. 3, 2014 - Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) is looking for interested farm owners/managers to participate in a second pilot of the Alberta FarmSafe Plan, a safety management resource for Alberta farmers.
The first pilot program to test the Alberta FarmSafe Plan took place in 2013-2014 with a group of nine farm owners/managers and was funded by Growing Forward. The program has been revised based on the feedback received. ARD is currently recruiting for a second, larger pilot to run in the 2014-2015 extension season with approximately 50 to 75 participants.
"We hope to get farmers involved representing a wide variety of farming types and sizes," says Laurel Aitken, farm safety coordinator, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. "It's the best way to get the feedback we need to ensure the FarmSafe Plan resources are useful across the industry.
"The Alberta FarmSafe Plan provides Alberta farmers with a step-by-step process to develop a health and safety plan," explains Aitken. "Farmers will learn how to identify the hazards specific to their farm and how to take steps to eliminate or control them. They will come out of the program understanding the importance of having a safety plan and following through with training and communication to all workers, visitors and contractors. The Alberta FarmSafe Plan manual and two-day workshop takes farmers through eight important elements to achieve the goal of an individualized safety plan."
In addition, the Alberta FarmSafe Plan has been developed to comply with the Alberta Government Certificate of Recognition (COR). "A completed FarmSafe plan will provide all the necessary building blocks to obtain a voluntary COR," explains Aitken. "Becoming COR certified signifies that a business has an effective health and safety management system in place with the added benefit of discounts on Workers Compensation Board (WCB) premiums."
A commitment to the pilot program will include two days of workshops led by a FarmSafe Advisor. The workshop along with all resource material is provided free of charge by ARD. Once a participant has completed the workshop, the work continues on-farm in cooperation with partners and employees to ensure implementation of the plan. "The farm owner needs to go back to the farm and work with the employees who are doing these tasks every day in order to get a really good picture of the hazards and how to control them."
Farmers interested in funding for on-farm business management coaching or skills training related to health and safety training can go to the Growing Forward website to learn about the Business Opportunity Program and the Business Skills Management Program.
"The entire process from workshop to farm implementation will be evaluated by ARD for any needed changes," says Aitken. "The feedback from those involved in the pilots is vital in developing a resource that will be effective for farmers who want to ensure the safety and health of their families and workers."
Five sessions are planned for this winter: Edmonton January 7/21, Red Deer January 29/February 5, and Lethbridge on January 9/15, with dates for Grande Prairie and Olds to be decided. To register for the workshops, call Lindsay at 780-427-4187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Alberta FarmSafe Plan, contact Laurel Aitken at 780-980-4230 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Aitken will also be at Agri-Trade on the afternoon of November 7 and all day November 8 to discuss the project.