Ontario Grain Farmer March 2024

9 ONTARIO GRAIN FARMER Young workers’ safety BUSINESS SIDE WITH... (J.M.) WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DO FARM EMPLOYERS HAVE WHEN HIRING OR WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE? (S.M.) A farm with paid employees is a workplace like any other under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. As an employer, farmers are responsible for running a safe farming operation — and that extends to all workers on the farm, including young workers. In addition to legal responsibility for their workers, farmers are often faced with the unique challenge of keeping children and youth safe due to the unique setting of both home and workplace. Proper training and a safe working environment are essential for everyone — employees and family. All workers, including young workers, have three rights in Ontario: the right to know, the right to participate, and the right to refuse unsafe work. WHAT ARE SOME FARM WORKPLACE SAFETY REMINDERS FOR YOUNG WORKERS? Teaching young people the importance of safety on the farm is just as important as proper training for those being paid to work. From 2011 — 2020, on Ontario farms, there were 38 fatalities under the age of 29 (21 children were younger than 14 years and 17 between the ages 15-29). No matter their age or experience, workers have a right to know about workplace health and safety hazards and as a farmer, it is crucial that you make them aware of what could go wrong and how they can do tasks safely. Everyone on the farm should be encouraged to stop and ask themselves what could go wrong, think about whether they clearly understand and are ready to do the task, and then act to make it safe using the right tools, equipment, procedures, etc. If unsure, workers should always ask for (and be offered) more training. Employers should do whatever it takes to make sure they feel confident they can do the job safely. To help break down young people’s wall of invincibility, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recently launched a #PracticeSafeWork campaign that uses funny videos with animal animations to raise awareness that workplace safety (including farm safety) isn’t something to take for granted. WHAT OBLIGATIONS DO FARM EMPLOYERS HAVE TO TRAIN AND SUPERVISE YOUNG WORKERS? Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers have a number of duties to protect new and young workers. Training requirements include ensuring workers complete an occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets regulatory requirements. Employers must also ensure workers understand the hazards in their work and how to work safely to protect themselves from injury and illness. They must also inform them about their health and safety rights, including the Sandy Miller, Industry and Partner Relations, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services www.wsps.ca Business side Jeanine Moyer right to refuse work that they believe could endanger themselves or others. The roles and responsibilities of a young farm worker can look different each day, depending on the season, weather, and equipment required for the job. Farm employers need to ensure proper training is provided for each responsibility, communicate clearly, answer questions, and be available to address any follow-up concerns. CAN YOU RECOMMEND FARM OR YOUNG WORKER SAFETY RESOURCES? Along with the videos, the WSIB campaign website www.practicesafework.ca is a helpful resource for young people and their parents to learn more about: • how they can play a role in staying safe at work • the types of questions they should ask employers about safety protocols and workplace hazards • what to do in the case of an injury • their rights and responsibilities related to workplace safety Workplace Safety & Prevention Services offers an online checklist — How Does Safety Rate on Your Farm? to help farmers recognize safety hazards so they can be corrected. You can view or download the checklist here: www.wsps.ca/ resource-hub/checklists/how-does-safety-rateon-your-farm-family-farm-safety-checklist. The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association has an excellent online resource to help match activities appropriate for youth working in agriculture with their developmental level and abilities — www.casa-acsa.ca/en/resources/ ag-youth-work-guidelines.• MARCH 2024