Occupational illnesses guidelines

The Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for Farming Operations in Ontario were developed to highlight specific, and sometimes unique and unusual hazards on farms. They were jointly prepared by representatives of the farming community, the Farm Safety Association (now Workplace Safety and Prevention Services), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Labour.

The purpose of the guidelines is to help employers, supervisors and workers on farms recognize hazards and determine the ways they may best comply with their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), and the relevant regulations. The guidelines provide general information to those in the workplace to help them identify specific hazards and dangerous situations. The guidelines may also provide the workplace parties with suggestions to consider in determining how to protect worker health and safety and to prevent injuries.

It is important to understand that the guidelines do not replace the laws that are in place. Employers, supervisors and workers on farms have responsibilities and rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the following three regulations under the Act: Regulation for Farming Operations, O. Reg. 414/05, Critical Injury Defined, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 834 and Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training, O. Reg. 297/13. The requirements in the OHSA and these three regulations must be complied with.

Employers have a legal obligation to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers; and, supervisors and workers must take appropriate steps to identify and address all workplace hazards. The guidelines are a starting point for the workplace parties to think about how to fulfill their obligations under the OHSA. Following the recommendations suggested in these guidelines does not relieve the workplace parties of their obligations to comply with the OHSA.

This is the first edition of the guidelines. They will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, as needed, and expanded as new production methods and technologies emerge.

In addition to safety hazards on a farm, such as tractors, harvesters or balers, there are also health hazards that can cause a work-related disease. The main workplace health hazards are biological, chemical and physical agents. Exposure to such agents can have serious and immediate consequences; or, they can cause long-term, chronic conditions.

General Responsibilities

  1. The employer shall provide information, instruction and supervision to workers exposed to hazardous biological, chemical or physical agents.
  2. The employer should carry out an assessment of the workplace and determine the risk that workers will be exposed to hazardous biological, chemical or physical agents and develop a plan for controlling worker exposure.
  3. Where workers are exposed to hazardous biological, chemical or physical agents, and it is not possible to control exposure by means such as substituting a safer material, or re-designing the work process, the employer and supervisor should ensure the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. For chemical agents, the protective equipment required will generally be identified on either the product label or material safety data sheet, where available.
  4. The employer should instruct workers on safe handling procedures and proper personal hygiene techniques to minimize contact with chemical or biological hazards.
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