For more than 35 years, the Canada Safety Council has recognized a need to highlight this topic in particular as farm-related fatalities typically start trending upwards around April.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

Also referred to as the Canadian Agricultural Safety Week by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the third week in March is a time to draw awareness to farm safety.

I think it is important to take this week once a year to draw attention to something so important. In fact, safety should be on every farmer’s mind more than once a year – once a month, once a week and even once a minute.

People who have been involved in an accident on the farm will say it only took a second. Just one second from going from good health to being hit by silo or manure gas, being pinned, getting cut, losing a limb or, even worse, losing a life.

According to the Alberta Farm Safety Centre, “Agriculture ranks as Canada’s third most hazardous industry, and in terms of absolute numbers of fatalities, there is no more dangerous occupation.”


Fortunately, data from Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) shows agriculture-related fatalities are declining.

A CAIR press release states, “From 1990 to 2001, an average of 116 people died due to an agriculture-related incident. From 2002 to 2012, the average number of agriculture-related fatalities declined to 85 per year.”

This data shows farm safety is moving in the right direction, perhaps because of the people and campaigns that draw attention to the topic.

I recently attended the Midwest Manure Summit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where event organizers felt the issue was so important that half of the programming was geared towards safety in manure handling.

This was due in part to the manure-related fatalities mentioned in the article “Toxic manure fumes kill: Make sure it doesn’t happen to you” published in our last issue (March 2017).

Sadly, however, while I was at this event, I began to see news coverage of a manure-related fatality in Ontario. Carl Gregg, 58, of Middlesex Centre had been employed at Wicketthorn Farms for 16 years. His body was found in a manure holding tank, and no foul play was suspected.

Just two weeks earlier, one of the owners of Wicketthorn Farms, Craig Connell, participated in a panel discussion at the London Dairy Congress. As you can see in his comments from the event "3 firsthand perspectives on farm expansion", Craig valued his quality staff members for their contributions to running a family farm of its size.

This was tragic news, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Carl’s family and friends, who lost a loved one, and to Craig, his family and employees, who lost a respected team member.

At this time of safety awareness, please do what you can to keep this or any other tragedy from happening on your farm to your employees, your family or you. Keep farm safety on your mind – not just for this one week each year but for every second.

Keep an eye out for materials to help you improve safety on your farm. Thanks to Cheryl DeCooman and Michelle Linington from People Management Group Inc., we have an article featuring farm safety in every other issue. See what Michelle has to say about safety around livestock "Stay safe around your animals."

This issue also includes a special article on what a dangerous distraction cellphones can be on the farm from Amy Throndsen with Advanced Comfort Technology Inc.

While she recognizes these devices as valuable tools, setting guidelines for when and where they can be used is an important safety measure for every farm.

Stay safe this spring and always!  end mark

Karen Lee