Children from both the Vauxhall and Taber areas attended the recent Rural Farm Safety Camp at the Taber Agri-Plex earlier this month.
After years on hiatus, a group of dedicated volunteers and safety-minded business sponsors decided to revive it and it looks like the steam is there for it to continue consecutively in upcoming years.
Adult chaperones and children alike packed the stands of the Taber Agri-Plex to hear the cautionary tale of Edwin Camps, from Barnwell, who luckily recovered from a farm accident that left him partially paralyzed, with months of recovery time to regain motion in all his limbs.
What was impressive about the Farm Safety Camp is the varieties in its message.
When one thinks of farm safety, the one thing that automatically comes to mind is small children around heavy machinery that help bring the crops to market.
Yes, that avenue was explored, but with 14 different stations for children to explore, it was so much more. Handling large farm animals like cows right down to dogs, lawn/field care, quads and emergency services were but a few of the many things explored at the Rural Farm Safety Camp.
Emergency services stressed to children the greater importance that children stay safe in rural settings due to the isolation. Response times for EMS out on the farm are not as fast as those in town limits, stressing the fact for safety vigilance out on the farm.
In helping keep children safe out on the farm, safety camps like the one done at the Taber Agri-Plex are needed now more than ever.
Agriculture ranks as Canada’s third-most hazardous industry. In terms of absolute numbers of fatalities, there is no more dangerous occupation. There were 1,769 agricultural fatalities in Canada from 1990 – 2005.
Agricultural machines were involved in 70.9 per cent of fatalities (Farm Safety Centre).
There are 346,000 farm operators in Canada, three-fifths of which are run by a single operator. Just over half of farm incidents happen while the victim is working alone, while about 25 per cent of incidents happen in the presence of a family member.
Most disabling injuries happen between September and November and are caused by unsafe use of equipment or material-handling practices. Fatigue is the second most common contributing factor. Trying to save time and miscommunication between workers are also common factors.
Injuries occur more frequently in the late afternoon and during the busy harvest months, when exhaustion and overwork is common. When fatigued or under time pressure, farmers may spend less time on safety, and when finances are strained bearing costs for safety can be difficult.
On average, 114 people are killed and another 1,499 are seriously injured by farm-related incidents in Canada each year.
Almost half of these incidents are caused by farm machinery and over a third involve children under 15 or adults over 65. It is estimated that farmers are five times more likely to be killed through occupation-related accident than workers in all other industries. Agriculture also has the highest rate of disabling injuries among all other industries. (Canadian Federation of Agriculture).
Agriculture is one of the main industries that help power southern Alberta, and it is good to see concerned volunteers are giving children the power of knowledge to help keep them safe on the farm.
The best part of the camp was children can be teachers to their parents who may have been letting some standards slip when it comes to safety on their farm. As many experts in the field say, farm safety is a choice — not an act of fate. Many injury incidents are preventable if enough foresight is given — the kind of foresight that was provided by the many dedicated volunteers at the Rural Farm Safety Camp.
Those volunteers and sponsors of the event should be applauded for caring so much about the safety of farm youth.