FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 11, 2016
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s Opposition Critic to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs highlighted some of the old dangers – and some new ones – during a recent speech in the Ontario Legislature to highlight Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.
“Every year—and it doesn’t seem to change—we hear of the tractor rollovers, entrapment in flowing grain, death from silo gas or manure gas, and PTO accidents,” Barrett said in the Legislature.
A former president of the Norfolk Farm Safety Association, Barrett also highlighted the concern of West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.
“They’ve also identified the danger of West Nile virus, one of the new emerging vector-borne infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes,” Barrett said. “This particular disease, as with Lyme disease, was not prevalent back when I was involved with farm safety. I give the association credit for addressing this threat as well.”
There was considerable discussion, both before and after the debate, as a number of MPPs have had either accidents or close calls themselves with farm equipment.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2016
Mr. Toby Barrett: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this very important subject.
Another year has passed, and we’ve had more farm tragedies, despite the heightened awareness programs and safety messaging. Regrettably, Ontario has the unfortunate designation of having the most farm accidents in Canada. To be fair, we have the largest number of farmers as well.
One of the real dangers for many is that the farm is also the home, so not only are people working on the farm in danger, but also other family members and, in particular, children. Last year was no exception to the sad trend of deaths of farmers’ children. This is the largest tragedy, and we must do whatever is possible to deal with this.
Every year—and it doesn’t seem to change—we hear of the tractor rollovers, entrapment in flowing grain, death from silo gas or manure gas, and PTO accidents. I was speaking with the member for Perth–Wellington. He grew up on an Essex county, fruit-and-vegetable operation. This is really scary: Randy Pettapiece was caught in a PTO twice—power take-off shaft. That’s 540 RPM, and the newer equipment is like double that RPM. His foot got caught once, and he ended up losing his boot and his sock. He was fortunate. He was up on top of the—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Lucky he didn’t lose his foot.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Yes—didn’t lose his foot.
Another time he was up on top of the other end of a grain auger, a grain elevator, trying to unplug, and his shirt got caught. His dad didn’t see it in time to shut down the equipment. It ripped his shirt off. This equipment is really scary. There’s much more regulation and requirement for the cover shields—safety shields.
But, I will mention—as with Randy when he’s working on a farm—I don’t wear rings. I’ve never worn rings, they get caught in things. Believe it or not, when I work on the farm, especially spring and fall, myself and my partner, we wear very, very old clothing. It’s clothing that’s almost rags; it’s almost rotten—it’s an odd thing to say this—because if something gets caught, it rips off. The sleeve will rip off instead of your arm ripping off.
When I say that, I think of a gentleman—I’m one of the past presidents of our local Norfolk Farm Safety Association. I attended a presentation by a farmer by Ken Kelly, upcountry from here, and he has a steel ??claw. He talked about how prices were very bad back then in the 1970s. He talked about the stress: He had to lay off his hired man; he was working twice as long, working at night, working in the rain, working in the mud—got his arm caught in a power take-off. He explained to us, after that happened, he said, “You think you have problems with your farm and with farm labour and dealing with prices and dealing with stress”—and stress is a big factor because of overwork and exhaustion. He explained to us once that happens to you, all those problems disappear. You’ve just got one problem: You’ve lost your arm, and you’re dealing with that.
On top of these traditional dangers on the farm—that’s probably one of the most dangerous occupations—new threats are developing. I know the book put out by the Farm Safety Association contains the fact sheets. They’ve also identified the danger of West Nile virus, one of the new emerging vector-borne infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. This particular disease, as with Lyme disease, was not prevalent back when I was involved with farm safety. I give the association credit for addressing this threat as well.
Farmers, as with outdoors people, hunters, fishermen, and people who work outside—forest industry, construction. Oftentimes, you are in a low, wet area. You’re exposed to, not only to mosquitos for West Nile—you’re exposed to the ticks that have moved into this area that carry with them…
… you’re exposed to not only the mosquitoes and West Nile, you’re exposed to the ticks that have moved into this area that carry with them Lyme disease.