Are farms getting safer?

Alberta has seen a drop in farm fatalities for 2009. A total of 13 Albertans died of farm-related injuries including a 76 year-old woman who was crushed by a bull and a six year-old boy who was kicked in the head by a horse.

2008 saw 23 people killed in farm-related injuries so this is a positive trend. The 2009 results are below the provincial average of 18.

In 1977 farms were exempted from the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHS). There has been a strong move towards changing that legislation. These concerns were raised over a year ago when a man died in High River cleaning out a feedlot silo.

At this point the provincial government is focusing on reducing fatalities and injuries. A further $175,000 has been allocated in 2009 for the provincial farm safety programs. These programs are "education first".

A farm is a business like any other. Since there is often heavy machinery involved it stands to reason that safety programs need to be in force. The question seems to be whether or not these programs will be overseen by OH&S as is done with the construction industry or if the farmers can continue to police themselves with satisfactory results.