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Learn from every safety incident

Dec. 20, 2011 - Farming and ranching can be a dangerous occupation. That’s why it is so important to track and check each safety incident and learn from it – so that you can prevent it from happening again.

The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) reports an average of 115 people are killed by farm related incidents every year, with at least 1,500 hospitalized. In 2006, a total of 13,801 Canadian farms reported one or more medically treated or lost time injuries, reports Statistics Canada. 

To help producers develop an incident track and check process, a new farm management tool called the Canada FarmSafe Plan has been developed by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. The Canada FarmSafe Plan supports the theme Plan • Farm • Safety, a three-year focus for the Canadian agricultural safety campaign. In 2010, the campaign promoted "Plan" with safety walkabouts and planning for safety. This year, the focus is on "Farm" including implementation, documentation and training. And in 2012, emphasis will be on "Safety" including assessment, improvement and further development of safety systems. A free download of the core Canada FarmSafe Plan is available at

“Near misses are free warnings,” said Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “You need to understand what happened, learn from it, and take all necessary actions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” 

The primary function of a farm safety incident investigation is to determine the root cause of the incident. To understand this, you need to find out: the immediate events leading up to it; what contributed to the incident such as unsafe actions or conditions, maintenance, operator training, external influences (weather, distraction, stress, etc.); the root causes that set the stage such as inadequate safety polices, procedures, maintenance or attitudes. Consider all possible influencing factors. 

Talk to anyone who was involved with or who saw the incident. Make note of their answers to these six questions.

  • Who was involved?
  • Where did the incident happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • What were the immediate causes?
  • Why did the incident happen (root cause)?
  • How can a similar incident be prevented?

All the information gathered should be summarized, reviewed by the worker(s) involved and signed by each to confirm accuracy. A copy of the report should be offered to the worker(s) involved. Keep the original on file in a confidential manner for at least three years.
The final and most important step in tracking and checking a farm safety incident is correcting the cause of the incident. This may require changes to the process, facility, equipment or level of training required to do the task in order to reduce the risk of this type of incident happening again.
Check out the core Canada FarmSafe Plan at and for more farm safety articles visit: and select "Agriculture" as the topic.

December 20, 2011  By Canadian Federation of Agriculture


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