Safety stats reveal scary scenario for farmers.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Program reports an average of 114 people killed and another 1,499 seriously injured in farm-related accidents each year. Farmers are five times more likely to be killed through an occupational accident than workers in any other industry. Agriculture also has the highest rate of disabling injuries of any occupation.

Based on the 2001 farm census, a 2007 Statistics Canada research paper Risk Factors Associated with Farm Injuries in Canada, found farmers over 55 years of age were less likely to have a farm injury than younger farmers. Farmers under the age of 35 were more likely to have a farm injury. Working with a sizeable beef cattle herd and farming a large acreage increased the chances of injury. Farmers working fewer than 20 hours per week were 2.4 times more likely to report a farm accident than those working more than 40 hours a week.

The 2001 census also found that half of all farm accidents happened when the victim was working alone and 25 per cent happened in the presence of another family member. Most disabling injuries were due to unsafe use of equipment and happened in the busy fall season — typically in late afternoon.

The Canadian Agricultural Surveillance Program (CAISP) reported that between 1990 and 2003, 274 children and youths under 19 years of age were killed in farm accidents and an additional 4,716 children spent at least one day in hospital due to an agricultural injury. Fifty three per cent of those injuries were machine related. Half the deaths were due to machine rollovers and run-overs.

CAISP also states that owner/operators accounted for 60 per cent of farm fatalities; 15 per cent were children of owner/operators, and 12 per cent hired help.

OHS Canada magazine (April/May 2009) reported a Canadian Agricultural Safety Association survey in which 83 per cent of farmers said safety was a priority but only 15 per cent had a safety plan in place. Quebec farmers appeared to be the most safety conscious with 44 per cent saying they had a safety plan. Manitoba was least prepared with only 8 per cent of farmers having a safety plan.

Alberta is the only province that still exempts all agricultural operations from occupational health and safety laws and regulations. On the other hand, PEI likely leads in farm worker protection having instituted a code of practice for all agricultural operations.