As an employer on a farming operation, it is important to assess each work process and job task on the farm to determine if there is a need for your workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent injury or illness.

PPE should be the last resort. You should attempt to control hazards by other means such as engineering controls like:

  • ventilation
  • redesign of work processes
  • using less toxic substances

PPE includes respirators, safety boots, goggles, ear plugs or muffs, hard hats, gloves, chaps and fall arrest devices.

Employer responsibilities

If it is necessary for your workers to wear PPE, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act you must provide information, instruction and supervision on the proper use and maintenance of the PPE. Instruction should include:

  • how PPE provides protection and the consequences of not wearing it
  • when PPE should be worn
  • how to properly fit and wear PPE
  • how to care for PPE and identify when it requires repair, cleaning or disposal

Let your workers know that, by law, they must use any PPE you provide and tell you about any defects in the PPE.

If it is necessary to use a chemical or other hazardous product on a farm and other controls are not possible, you should provide your workers with PPE and advise them to follow instructions from the manufacturer.

These instructions will be on a warning label of a container or on a safety data sheet (SDS). You should make these available to your workers as required by Regulation 860 – Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). They are generally available from the supplier of the product.

You should monitor the use of PPE to make sure that it provides adequate protection for your workers and does not cause undue discomfort or create new hazards while being used.

Hearing protection

In work environments where noise levels exceed 85 decibels, workers must wear hearing protection.

There are many types of hearing protection, including earplugs or muffs. Provide your workers with hearing protection that is suitable for the work environment and provides adequate noise reduction.

To learn more about hearing protection requirements, read our guide to the noise regulation.

Respiratory protection

There are many types of respirators available to protect against a variety of atmospheric hazards. It is important that the respirator used for a particular job protects against the hazard in question. Using the wrong respirator can be as dangerous as not wearing one at all. All respirators must fit well and provide a proper seal with the wearer's face in order to provide adequate protection.

Disposable respirators

You should provide workers with disposable respirators to use where dust, mist or fumes may be present.

Chemical cartridge respirators

To filter out gases and organic vapours, you should provide workers with chemical cartridge respirators. These respirators are hazard-specific, meaning that a cartridge designed to filter out a particular gas will not protect a worker from exposure to a different gas.

Powered air purifying respirators

Where there may be excessive dust levels or pesticides, you should provide workers with powered air purifying respirators. These respirators are battery operated with replaceable cartridges that are hazard-specific and have a constant airflow to make breathing easier.

Gas masks

You should provide workers with gas masks to use where there may be exposure to high concentrations of specific gases. They usually have a full-face piece and canister attached.

Supplied air respirators

Make sure your workers do not use disposable respirators, chemical cartridge respirators, powered air purifying respirators or gas masks in oxygen deficient atmospheres.

Where there may be exposure to highly toxic and oxygen deficient atmospheres, you should provide workers with supplied air respirators. These respirators come with the air supply in a tank, a small emergency bottle and have positive pressure for use in toxic atmospheres.

Make sure that your workers follow confined space entry procedures.

Eye protection

Where there is a danger of flying objects, particles, liquids, sprays or other matter entering the eyes, you should provide workers with eye protection. Protection can take many forms including:

  • safety glasses
  • goggles
  • full face protection

Foot protection

Foot protection is usually in the form of steel-toed work boots, with a steel shank to protect the bottom of the foot from puncture wounds. In wet environments, steel-toed boots that are waterproof and slip-resistant may be necessary. The type of foot protection will depend on the work being done and the hazards involved.

Hand protection

Gloves offer good protection for the hands. They may be made of many different materials such as cotton, leather, rubber or other water resistant materials. The specific hazard and job task should determine the type of gloves chosen.

Head protection

Head injuries can occur under various circumstances including working:

  • where there is the danger of a slip or fall
  • with unpredictable animals
  • in confined areas where there are low ceilings
  • where there may be falling objects

Where your workers may encounter hazards that can cause head injuries, you should make sure that they wear hard hats, bump caps, helmets or other types of head protection.

Body protection

Workers may require body protection in various situations including working in dusty environments, spraying liquid pesticides or handling dangerous chemicals. Body protection may include an apron, coveralls or a full rain suit.

You should provide your workers with protective chaps or leg protection to wear when using a chainsaw. The most appropriate type of protection will depend on the hazard to be controlled.

Fall protection

Fall protection includes the use of safety belts, harnesses and lifelines to prevent injury due to a fall from a height. Learn more about protection from slips, trips and falls.