Good safety practices and good management go hand in hand.
We, as tobacco producers, realize that at busy times of the
year every minute counts. We do not need to be losing time
because an accident has occurred and we need to find a replacement
We need to remember that ACCIDENTS HURT, ACCIDENTS COST,
AND ACCIDENTS CAN BE AVOIDED. In 1995, there were 166
lost time injuries reported to the Workers' Compensation Board
in Ontario from tobacco farms. Many of these injuries could
have been avoided by taking the time to ensure that equipment
and facilities were safe and that proper instruction was given
to employees. "Lack of time" is no excuse to be lax with safety.
When we are stressed and preoccupied with the work at hand,
safety practices often suffer both on the farm and on the
When we all work together, accidents and costs can be reduced
along with your stress levels.
The purpose of these guidelines is to remind producers of their
responsibility as it applies to the health and safety on the
farm. These guidelines will offer reminders of items to consider
prior to each operation so that safety becomes a priority. These
guidelines will also provide you with references and other sources
of information which you may use to comply with accepted safety
Examples used in these guidelines are actual accidents, some
of which have occurred on tobacco farms.
The farm tractor is one of the most used pieces of equipment
on today's tobacco farm. Most farms will have more than one
tractor, often of different sizes and used for different tasks.
It is also the most dangerous
piece of machinery you
will encounter. Farm tractors have killed 250 people on Ontario
farms in a recent fifteen year period. Many of the deaths have
involved rollovers to the side or rear, extra passengers falling
from the tractor and bystanders being run over. There are a
number of basics that you must know about if you are to keep
yourself, your family and your employees safe.
Rollovers account for about one-half of all tractor fatalities
on our farms. The chief causes of these rollovers include:
too fast for conditions
surface irregularities such as rocks, stumps and holes
turns at high speeds
high for extra traction
on steep slopes
operation of front-end loaders
avoid tractor rollovers to the side
your wheels at the widest spacing possible for the job at
attempt to cross excessively steep slopes.
constantly for depressions and obstacles. If stability becomes
uncertain on sloping land, turn downhill!
your speed to conditions and loads. Don't let your tractor
brake pedals together before high speed travel, and slow
down before turning.
engine braking when going downhill.
at least as far away from ditches and streams as they are
a front-end loader bucket as low as possible.
avoid tractor rollovers to the rear
hitching a load higher than the drawbar.
proper weights to increase tractor stability.
forward motions slowly and increase speed gradually.
possible, avoid backing downhill.
around ditches not across them.
your tractor out when mired in mud. If this won't work,
the only safe way is to tow the stuck machine out with another
tractor that has rollover protection.
your tractor has a loader attached
to it, lower the loader to the ground when not in use. Workers
can walk into a raised loader while carrying items or while
having vision obstructed.
Training new operators thoroughly in tractor operation
is a must! Even if your tractor operator has used tractors
before, they may have been different makes or models with
controls in different locations. Take the time to review the
safety rules and hazards associated with tractor operation.
Pesticides are not only toxic to humans, they can be even more
toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife. Follow instructions
to protect yourself and the environment.
When using any farm chemicals
you must read the label
thoroughly to determine what safety equipment you need for handling,
mixing, and applying the chemical. Always follow safety precautions
in accordance with the label.
chemicals, wear a respirator if required as well as other prescribed
equipment. Pay attention to spray drift and take necessary precautions.
Do not apply chemicals when workers are in the fields or
greenhouses and observe re-entry times
according to label
instructions. Greenhouses are confined spaces and chemical concentrations
can be higher than in open fields.
Chemical containers should be triple rinsed with water added
to the spray tank. This is because as much as 3% of the original
formulation can be left in a container. It could be dangerous
to other people if left without rinsing. The rinsed containers
should be recycled where possible. Check with your chemical
supplier or Ministry of the Environment to determine the nearest
drop off site near you. Where allowable, paper or cardboard
containers may be burned, ensuring that people and animals are
kept away from the smoke and that the smoke is not directed
towards buildings, highways, roads or public outdoor areas.
storage locations must be posted with a warning sign!
must be stored in accordance with the regulations set out in
the Pesticides Act. Chemicals should be locked in a secure storage
area vented to the outside atmosphere. A placard bearing the
words "CHEMICAL STORAGE WARNING - AUTHORIZED PERSONS ONLY" must
be affixed to the entrance. There should be no floor drain that
goes into any sewer or water course. Pesticides must be stored
in their original containers and off the ground if the possibility
of flooding exists.
Safety information on farm chemicals is contained in the Tobacco
published by OMAFRA.
Other safety information is available from your pesticide certification
program or the Farm Safety Association.
You can obtain Material Safety Data Sheets from your supplier
for each chemical when you purchase it.
Be extremely careful when working with fumigants. Fumigant
gases are highly toxic
When using fumigants
wear the appropriate protective
equipment to prevent skin and inhalation exposure.
When using formaldehyde
follow the recommended procedures
on the label including the use of proper protective equipment.
Formaldehyde is used to control moss and pole rot. Remember
that a closed kiln or greenhouse is a confined space!
When using formaldehyde to dip sticks make sure that people
carrying out this operation wear sufficient protection against
splash or vapors.
equipment should be in top shape. Use caution with high clearance
sprayers as their stability can change with terrain, speed and
quick turns. These have been known to flip over.
Safety Precautions in the Greenhouse, please refer to the chemical
safety section in this booklet.
Before seeding the greenhouse, you should perform a detailed
inspection taking notes on items which need immediate attention.
Some of these will include:
Replacing greenhouse glass:
Gloves and eye protection are a must for this operation. Any
ladders that you use should be inspected and in good condition.
Housekeeping and cleanup:
Make sure that areas in and
around the greenhouse are free of debris and other items which
can cause hazards.
Water lines and pipes:
Inspect your water supply lines for
wear and tear and replace worn out hoses and taps if necessary.
If overhead pipes have created a hazard where employees have
walked into them or bumped their heads often, consider moving
them higher or elsewhere, if possible.
Electrical cords and outlets:
Have your wiring checked
before starting up. Any extension cords that you use should
be inspected and repaired if necessary. Check for cracks in
insulation and wear at the connecting ends.
Consider the wet environment they will be in. Electricity
and water are a deadly mixture
. Installing ground fault
circuit interrupters in your system is a good safety measure.
They could save a life if equipment shorts out. Check the electrical
system before start-up.
The victim was doing general maintenance when the aluminum ladder
the victim was using came into contact with hydro wires. Cause
of death was electrocution.
Fans should be guarded:
Employees or children should
be protected from coming into contact with fan blades. Make
sure that some form of shield or guard is in place on both
of the fan. The mesh on any screen guard should be
small enough to prevent fingers from going through and contacting
fan blades. Regular maintenance will reduce wear and the noise
produced while operating.
Use care when steaming with plastic!
As you lift the
plastic, steam can escape and hit you causing severe burns.
Anticipate this, and don't rush!
Steamers should be thoroughly inspected:
around steamers at all times. Burns can be common, so use gloves.
Cold weather can lead to icy conditions around the steamer.
Correct these conditions or slips and falls could result. Check
all electrical connections, quick couplers, condition of hoses
and pans, gauges and valves. Steam pans and lifters may need
maintenance and alignment. Plan your steaming. Ask yourself,
what didn't go right last year?
Check power floats:
Check the electrical system on the
power float before work starts. Make employees aware of potential
pinch points and place warning decals on areas which cannot
be guarded and which present a hazard to workers. All workers
should be taught how to reverse or shut off power floats. Make
sure that you stop the float before getting on or off.
Manually operated floats:
Check the condition of the boards,
centering, alignment for floats, surfaces traveled on for smoothness,
condition of wheels and guide wheels as well as lubrication
for easy, quiet use.
When spreading vermiculite:
Make sure that workers are protected
with dust masks and eye or face protection.
Post warning signs or re-entry times:
Post warning signs
where you are required to do so according to label instructions
of the chemicals used.
Store and transport planting chemicals safely!
Perform pre-planting maintenance:
Carry out an inspection
of all equipment and machinery you will be using during planting
including planters, wagons, water tanks, tractors, etc. Pay
attention to any sharp edges, corners or projections which can
cause injury and correct them. Place warning decals on machinery
where hands can become caught in augers, chain drives, belts
Proper clothing is a must!
This applies to both you and
your employees. Dangling scarves, loose long hair, shoe laces,
frayed clothing and tie cords can become caught in moving parts
of machinery such as planters, and fertilizer augers.
Get your signals straight.
Communication is very important
to safety, especially around noisy equipment. Make sure that
everyone knows what signals mean for stopping, starting, etc.
Make sure that everyone knows the rules: no one gets on or off
of a piece of equipment while it is moving!
Watch for bystanders:
Before starting to move any piece
of equipment, make sure there is no one near it, especially
small children who can be run over. Do a quick walk around if
necessary. It only takes a few seconds.
Ensure that water tanks are secure:
This applies to tanks
on both trucks and wagons. Check tires for wear and their ability
to hold a heavy load before filling
the tank. If wagons
will be traveling on public roadways make sure they have adequate
safety chains and a slow moving vehicle sign on the rear. When
wagons are parked, block the wheels to keep them from rolling.
Make sure you use safe lifting techniques:
should be instructed in safe lifting techniques to prevent possible
back injury. When lifting plant boxes or fertilizer bags, bend
at the knees and use your legs for lifting...don't stoop!
Turn your feet before walking, don't twist with your lifted
Use team work:
assign specific tasks to each worker for
re-filling planter with plants, fertilizer, water, etc. An organized
team operates more efficiently and safely!
When handling fertilizers
consider wind conditions before
filling the planter. A dust mask and eye protection may be appropriate.
A supply of fresh water should be available for washing or to
use as an eyewash if needed. Use caution when operating fertilizer
The victim had been working on a planter. Upon finishing the
row, the victim went to the opposite side at the rear of the
machine, and could not be seen by the operator. As the planter
was backed up, it knocked the victim down and its wheel passed
over the victim's entire right side.
Tag your equipment if parts are worn or need to be replaced
before next season. These tags act as reminders to fix it before
using it. Remember, breakdowns cost time and money!
Is your pond fenced?:
If your farm pond is easily accessed
by the public or if small children can wander near it, you should
consider some form of fencing which will prevent a tragedy from
occurring on your farm.
Machinery access to ponds, or creeks:
Some ponds or creeks
are located in areas where it is difficult to get machinery
in and out. If possible, try to design a safe access point,
particularly if employees or contractors will be operating the
The victim was operating a farm tractor and while reversing,
drove over the edge of the bank and into a pond. The victim
was pinned underneath the tractor in the pond.
Inspect all pipes and irrigation equipment:
be done prior to using it. Gloves and work boots are a must
for handling pipes.
Use caution when moving or raising pipes
-- always look for overhead powerlines to prevent electrocution.
The victim and another person were laying irrigation pipes from
one farm to another. They were attempting to put a 30 foot pipe
into a culvert under the road. Since the culvert had filled
with sand they kept pulling the pipe out to clear the sand.
While doing this, the pipe came into contact with a 4800 volt
hydro line and electrocution resulted.
High voltage power lines:
Consider the location of these
lines when setting up your irrigation system and determining
where water is to be sprayed. Contact can sometimes lead to
Pipes loaded for transport
should be secured before moving
onto the highway. It's the law!
For pumps operated by a power takeoff:
Make sure that
there is a PTO safety shield in place and this includes the
master shield on the tractor. Never, never step over the
Use caution around 'travelers' or self-moving irrigation
Mechanical hazards such as chain drives, revolving
shafts, etc., can pose hazards too. Cables on equipment should
be checked for wear and replaced if needed. Plan your adjustments
and repairs to account for the movement and pressure. When
the irrigation head reverses, the force of its momentum can
Again, watch for powerlines and use caution
The individual was repairing a traveler while it was running
and got caught in the system and was killed.
Before harvest, perform detailed inspections on all harvest
equipment and buildings and make repairs where necessary.
Inspect all baskets:
Examine both baggy and traditional
baskets for broken steel, cracks, and other hazards which can
cause cuts or other injury.
Shields and guards must be over chain drives, belts and pulleys,
Affix warning decals in these areas as reminders to
can be a problem for some workers depending
upon their sensitivity. This reaction to contact with tobacco
should be treated early. Stress the importance of keeping clothing
clean and skin protected to employees. Some have been known
to use the same clothing day after day while harvesting the
Proper clothing is a must on the priming machine.
clothing, laces and suspenders can all become caught in moving
parts of the machine. Bump caps and proper footwear must be
worn. No bare feet!
Employees should come prepared with
Lightning can be deadly.
If a sudden severe storm comes
up, get away from open areas; go into a building or car. Keep
away from water or anything such as metal fences, irrigation
systems, etc. If you sense your hair or skin beginning to tingle,
you may be about to be struck. Crouch low to the ground with
feet together, making you a small target. Do not lie on the
ground especially if it is wet.
Employees should receive proper job instruction:
to your employees how and why something is done as well as the
safest way to accomplish the task. Point out that the safe
way is the quickest way!
Priming machine operators
must always be aware of conditions
such as ditches. Proper procedures for refueling should be communicated
to workers so that an accident doesn't happen such as refueling
a hot engine with the potential for explosion.
While priming tobacco, the victim's head apparently hit the
tobacco priming machine and as a result death occurred due to
a brain hemorrhage.
Both full and semi-automatic harvesters
have their own risks. Proper instruction to the operator is
critical to safety.
Make sure that all employees
know that only those
you assign to operate equipment, can operate it.
The truck or tractor operator (boat driver)
must be constantly
aware at all times of conditions, location of bystanders, etc.
If the driver is traveling on the roadway with farm machinery
he/she must be at least 16 years old. If they are operating
a licensed vehicle they must possess a driver's license.
The victim was driving a tractor on a highway. A truck came
up behind the tractor and attempted to pass. Without warning,
the victim started a left turn and struck the side of the truck.
The deceased was thrown from the tractor and died later in the
hospital of severe brain damage.
Establish slow down zones
for the truck or tractor operator
(boat driver) and operators of other equipment in the kiln yard,
around buildings, etc. The rule for the driver should be NO
RIDERS ON A LOADED TRUCK!
Transport workers safely to
and from the field.
Consider protecting gas meters
in the kiln yard to prevent
a vehicle from accidentally backing into one or hitting one.
The result could be tragic.
when moving ladders around the kiln yard.
They can contact power lines and lead to electrocution. Be
The teenager was working with an elevator, lowering it by turning
the crank at the side of the elevator. The elevator slipped
down and the crank continued to turn, hitting the teenager on
the head several times, resulting in death.
cords and hookups for wear and to ensure
that insulation is intact and there is a good ground plug. Use
of ground fault circuit interrupters with electrical equipment
in the kiln yard is a good safety measure. A ground fault
circuit interrupter protects you
or your employees from
potentially fatal electric shock. Wear rubber boots in wet conditions.
Check the condition of tying machines:
to shielding and guarding. The tying machine should always have
the wheels blocked to prevent sudden movement which could result
in injury while the equipment is operating.
When moving equipment
such as tying machines, elevators,
etc., plan the move, communicate and move slowly. Someone should
be placed in charge of moving equipment safely.
Conventional kilns should be checked
for their condition,
especially tiers and kiln hanger boards. It is much easier to
replace tiers than kiln hangers.
Kiln burners should be serviced
and operating properly
before they are needed. Check lines for leaks (e.g. oil spots
on the ground, pressure gauges for gas).
Bulk kilns have their own hazards:
Watch for sharp edges
on racks and use care when around the pegs which can puncture
hands and fingers. Bump caps should be worn when filling the
kilns. Equipment which can swivel around should have sharp corners
removed or rounded to prevent catching the workers.
Any defective equipment at the end of harvest
will have to fix at a future time should be tagged. This will
act as a reminder to you that repairs should be made before
using it next year. It is easy to forget.
When unloading kilns
, safety is a priority. Fast is not
Have dust masks available
for employees when conditions
require them such as grading sand leaves.
Consider anti-fatigue mats
on concrete floors to prevent
problems created from standing all day. The mats reduce fatigue
and sore backs.
Safe lifting techniques
should be shown to and used by
During the operation of a forklift, it is believed that the
victim was not seen by the operator and was run over by the
Hot surfaces can burn.
Make employees aware of hot surfaces
such as steamers and boilers.
Hand injuries are common
when operating the press. Use
It is important to make sure that their living quarters are
safe and that they are aware of potential hazards there.
Have a first aid kit on hand for workers.
Make sure a working smoke alarm is in sleeping quarters.
Mount appropriate fire extinguishers, especially near cooking
areas. For example, a multi-purpose ABC fire extinguisher.
Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters installed to prevent
Have a good ventilation fan in the cooking area.
Keep your bunkhouse safe and clean.
Check with proper authorities for regulations for housing labour
on your farm.
CAUTION: Make sure that electric generators are properly
hooked up before engaging them, AND PROPER STARTUP PROCEDURES
ARE FOLLOWED! (Check your operator's manual, or contact the
manufacturer, your retailer, or local electrician.)
DO NOT ALLOW HORSEPLAY AT ANY TIME!
A safe work environment reduces accidents and thus STRESS
at the busiest of times.
Keep a supply of extra equipment
such as rain suits, boots,
etc., for those employees who sometimes forget to bring them.
The victim hooked a cable from a tractor driven generator to
a junction box at a hydro pole in order to provide electricity
to a barn. The victim was found between the tractor and the
generator. Investigation revealed that the cable was improperly
wired, which allowed power to cycle back to the source through
wet ground. The victim was electrocuted by touching either the
tractor or the generator.
Observe re-entry times
after spraying chemicals -- don't
send employees into recently sprayed fields.
Insist that employees wear proper footwear on the farm-- no
Keep children away from the workplace!
One in five deaths
on the farm in Ontario involves a child being in the workplace.
can be a very deadly and destructive force. If you become caught
in an open area during a storm or around the farm yard, keep
these pointers in mind:
Go away from open areas; go into a building, or car/pickup truck.
Keep away from anything that conducts electricity. This includes
fences, irrigation pipes, water, faucets, appliances, etc.
Do not lie on the ground. Crouch low with your feet together
to minimize contact with the ground.
Don't be the tallest object in an area or anywhere near the
tallest object or structure.
If you must seek shelter among trees, keep away from the tallest,
crouching in a low area or ravine.
There is always a need to boost or jump-start batteries on the
farm There is great potential for injury if done improperly.
Concentrated sulphuric acid
can cause severe burns.
is recommended when boosting the battery.
Batteries produce combustible gas.
It is important to connect the cables in the following order:
- Positive (red) terminal to the dead battery.
- To positive (red) terminal of the good battery.
- Negative terminal of the good battery.
- To engine block of stalled vehicle, away from
- Start the vehicle with the good battery first, then
start the stalled vehicle. Cables should be removed in reverse
order from 4 through to 1. which could cause sparking as
a result of electrical contact.
Each worker when starting a new job should receive some training
for the task that they will be doing. Even those who claim to
be experienced at a job should be monitored
to make sure
that they are doing the job correctly and safely.
The following are the basics that should be considered when
Explain how and why
you want a particular job done.
how to do the job, the right way.
If the job has hazards
, make certain that they are pointed
Before leaving workers on their own,
make sure that they
can demonstrate to you
how to do the your way, and do
not leave the workers until you are certain that they will do
Make frequent checks on new workers!
BE A GOOD MANAGER!
READY FOR AN EMERGENCY?
POST EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
by each telephone on
the farm. You should include police, ambulance, fire, doctor,
hospital, neighbors etc. USE 911 WHERE AVAILABLE.
Make sure that you post the FARM LOCATION
available and the county road, township, lot and concession.
You may also want to have a short description of how to get
there from the main roads. Remember, in an emergency, it is
hard to think straight, and easier to read directions.
What do you tell to EMERGENCY PERSONNEL?
emergency in detail and how to get to the location of the emergency.
Make sure that you give the telephone number that you are calling
from. STAY ON THE PHONE
until you are told to hang up.
DO YOU HAVE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
in key locations on the
farm such as bunkhouse, strip room, workshop, kiln yard, tractors,
etc.? Does everyone know how to use them?
Has anyone on your farm taken FIRST AID TRAINING COURSES
Do you have first aid kits at work locations?
Make sure your first aid kit contains latex gloves
administering first aid.
The FARM SAFETY ASSOCIATION has information on many safety topics
and can assist you in developing a safety plan for your farm.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.