Slips, trips and falls on farming operations
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As the employer you must provide information, instruction and supervision to protect workers from injury. On a farming operation this could include protecting workers from falls:
- from a height within a structure
- from a ladder
- through openings in a work surface
- while working on a level surface
- while working on and around machinery
Falls from heights
Fall protection system
A fall protection system is a system designed to protect workers from the risk of falling when working at heights. Examples of fall protection systems include:
- safety harnesses and lifelines
- the use of guardrails or barriers
- travel restraints that limit a worker's movement beyond a safe area
As an employer you should work with your supervisors to develop safety procedures for each job task that requires a worker to work at a height greater than three metres. You should also make sure that:
- a competent person adequately instructs any worker who uses a fall protection system prior to its use
- a worker uses a fall protection system whenever there is a risk of falling from heights
- the components of the fall protection system are adequate to protect the worker
- each procedure outlines the specific safety precautions that protect the worker from a fall
- your workers are trained to follow the procedures and they review them before they start a task
A guardrail system is an assembly of components joined together to provide a barrier to prevent a worker from falling from the edge of a surface.
Where there is a hazard of falling between levels or floors within a building or structure, the primary means of fall protection should be a guardrail system. You should make sure that the guardrail system can withstand all loads applied to it.
If it is not possible to install a guardrail system you should make sure that there is adequate protection to protect workers from a fall.
When a guardrail system has to be removed temporarily to perform work, you should post warning signs and provide an alternate means of fall protection that will not allow a worker to fall onto either the ground or another level or object below the work zone.
Holes and openings
When holes and openings are not in use you should:
- always cover trap doors and feed "throw down" holes
- install guardrails around clean-out openings in structures with multiple floors
Working with ladders
As an employer, you should make sure that a portable ladder has non-slip feet, is on firm footing, and has no broken or loose parts or other faults.
If your workers need to work on a ladder for an extended period without changing location, consider using scaffolds or other work platforms to reduce the risk of falling.
A portable ladder that exceeds six metres in length, is not securely fastened or is likely to be exposed to traffic, should be:
- held in place by one or more workers while being used
- inclined so that the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is not less than one quarter and not more than one third of the length of the ladder
Before using an orchard ladder you should ensure it is appropriate for the task and instruct workers on its proper use. When necessary for safety, the feet of the ladder should be equipped with steel points or other non-slipping bases designed for the surface used.
Where workers climb the outside of a structure such as a silo or grain bin on an access ladder fixed in position, the ladder should have a safety cage installed to protect them. In the absence of a safety cage, workers should use other means of fall protection, for example, the three-point method of contact while climbing.
The three-point contact method refers to maintaining contact with either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at all times.
Slips and trips on a level surface
All workplace parties should keep work surfaces clear of slip and trip hazards to the greatest extent possible.
Your workers should:
- follow the instruction and training you provide
- learn to recognize potential slip and trip hazards
- report to their supervisor anything they feel could be a threat to sound footing
- put tools away when they are no longer needed
- wear safety footwear, appropriate for the work being done, to prevent slipping and falling on walking surfaces
- keep all aisles and walkways free of clutter and debris
- clean up oil spills and other slippery materials immediately
- make areas that are slippery because of the continuous use of water (common in the floriculture industry) off-limits to general traffic and restrict it to those workers who must perform their duties in that area
- spread sand or salt on icy surfaces where workers work
- consider putting jobs outdoors off until conditions improve if the weather is particularly bad
Taking extra care around machinery
Your workers should never jump from a tractor. There is always the danger of catching clothing on pedals, levers or other protruding parts. Workers could land on an uneven surface and injure their ankles, legs or back.
Your workers should:
- never operate equipment from any position other than the operator's seat or control area
- never allow passengers because they are much more likely to fall from a moving machine
- not carry tools, chains or other equipment on a platform
- always use handrails, handholds and steps to mount or dismount tractors and self-propelled equipment
- follow the three-point system, either two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet on the machine at all times
- instruct workers on the proper techniques for mounting and dismounting equipment
- keep steps and platforms of tractors and other machinery clean and dry
- make sure surfaces are free from mud, ice, snow, manure, grease and other debris