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Be safe when working alone on the farm

Mar. 23, 2015 - A hazard assessment is the first step farm owners and managers should take to make farms safer for employees working alone. This is a process of identifying existing or potential hazards on the work site.

According to Kenda Lubeck, farm safety co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, when identifying farm workplace hazards, farmers should talk to their workers and, if possible, review any incidents that happened over the previous two or three years.

"Employers can check with other farms or similar businesses if they do not have personal experiences or records of past incidents," Lubeck adds.

Employers should then carefully examine the workplace, day-to-day management practices and other situations that may put employees at risk. This will help employers develop and put in place preventative measures to address these problems. An employer's review should look at:

  • Factors that make the risk of occupational injury more likely or severe, such as hazardous work, e.g. working with equipment and machinery, isolation from first aid services and inability to call for help;
  • The effectiveness of existing safety measures such as guards and shields, equipment operation protocol and personal protective equipment. Find out whether those measures are being used and whether employees have been adequately trained in their use.

The following strategies are key to controlling hazards and reducing the risks associated with working alone:

Safe Work Procedure – Having written safe work procedures for hazardous jobs is essential. This provides standard instruction to all employees to carry out the work safely.

Equipment Safety – The farm owner/manager must ensure employees use equipment as intended and according to the manufacturer's specifications. All equipment used at a work site must be maintained in good working condition, whether or not it is being used in a "working alone" situation. High hazard equipment should have a dead-man (kill) switch to prevent continued activation of the equipment. The switch should always be in good working order.

Equipment and Supplies – In addition to proper equipment, appropriate first aid and emergency supplies must be provided to employees who are working alone at a work site.

Travel Plan – If employees are working alone in a remote location, the employer should establish a sign-out procedure to track their whereabouts. An "overdue employee" procedure should also be in place for locating employees who fail to report on time.

For more information on developing a complete health and safety management system for your farm, check out the Alberta FarmSafe Plan at



March 23, 2015  By Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development


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