The Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for Farming Operations in Ontario were developed to highlight specific, and sometimes unique and unusual hazards on farms. They were jointly prepared by representatives of the farming community, the Farm Safety Association, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Labour.
The purpose of the guidelines is to help employers, supervisors and workers on farms recognize hazards and determine the ways they may best comply with their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and the relevant regulations. The guidelines provide general information to those in the workplace to help them identify specific hazards and dangerous situations. The guidelines may also provide the workplace parties with suggestions to consider in determining how to protect worker health and safety and to prevent injuries.
It is important to understand that the guidelines do not replace the laws that are in place. Employers, supervisors and workers on farms have responsibilities and rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the following four regulations under the Act: Regulation for Farming Operations; Critical Injury--Defined; Training Programs; and, Training Requirements for Certain Skill Sets and Trades. The requirements in the OHSA and these four regulations must be complied with.
Employers have a legal obligation to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers; and, supervisors and workers must take appropriate steps to identify and address all workplace hazards. The guidelines are a starting point for the workplace parties to think about how to fulfill their obligations under the OHSA. Following the recommendations suggested in these guidelines does not relieve the workplace parties of their obligations to comply with the OHSA.
This is the first edition of the guidelines. They will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, as needed, and expanded as new production methods and technologies emerge.
On average, two people die every year in accidents involving animals on Ontario farms. Inadequate animal handling facilities and poor animal handling methods increase the likelihood that accidents will occur. Animals are also the source of some infectious diseases that can be spread to humans. Handlers must always be on guard when working with or around animals. This section covers the following topics:
Farm employers and workers handling large animals can be killed or injured in a number of ways, including being:
The points below are provided for information purposes only and may help those handling large animals to understand why certain precautions are necessary.
Workers should be aware of the limitations of vision of the particular animal that they are working with. Animals may have:
Loud, abrupt noises can cause distress in livestock. Reduction of noise levels will have a calming effect on animals.
Livestock with young exhibit a maternal instinct. They are usually more defensive and difficult to handle.
Most animals have a strong territorial instinct and develop a very distinctive attachment to certain areas such as pastures, buildings, water troughs and worn paths. Forcible removal from familiar areas can cause animals to react unexpectedly. Similar problems occur when animals are moved away from feed, separated from the herd or approached by an unfamiliar person.
Each type of animal kicks differently. Some of the reasons animals kick include:
Animals may signal their intention to kick. For example, ears that are "laid back," or flattened backward, warn you that a horse is getting ready to kick or bite.
Most animals, like humans, have a comfort zone. The illustration below is specific to cattle but the principles apply generally to other animals as well.
A comfort or flight zone can be used to effectively move cattle and other animals. This works best when the handler works at the edge of the flight zone. These zones will vary from animal to animal and can be anywhere from five to twenty-five feet. Deep invasion into the flight zone may cause panic and confusion. Learning the principles of using the flight zone will allow a handler to move the herd safely.