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Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

OMAFRA is once again looking to identify qualified representatives for potential appointment to the Business Risk Management Review Committee (BRMRC).  The ministry has launched a recruitment process to appoint a part-time Chair, Vice-Chair and Members to this agency.

The BRMRC is a ministry agency responsible for reviewing program participant requests in the case of disagreement on how program rules were applied to applications to select BRM programs by the program administrator. It is important that the BRMRC have representation from a cross-section of Ontario’s diverse agricultural sector.  Background information on the agency as well as job advertisements to the different positions can be found on the Public Appointment Secretariat website (https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/advertPositions.asp).

Anyone interested in applying can do so directly on the Public Appointment Secretariat website at (https://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/advertPositions.asp ) until March 7, 2017.

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Ontario is helping corn and soybean farmers comply with recent rules protecting insect pollinators by continuing to provide mandatory training for free until April 30, 2017.

Farmers need the training if they wish to purchase and use neonicotinoid-treated corn and/or soybean seeds.

The half-day course is available in English or French, online or in class in towns across Ontario and at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus. To register, call 1-866-225-9020, or go online at www.IPMcertified.ca

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What is 85 dB and How do I Measure it?  

What this means to farmers

 A decibel is essentially a unit of measurement for sound.  It is a measure of power or intensity of a specific sound. Decibels work in a logarithmic function. For example, 85 decibels is two times louder than 83 decibels, thus for every 3 decibels increased above 85 the sound power doubles and the recommended exposure period is reduced by half.

This new regulation states that employers are required to ensure that employees are not exposed to sound levels equivalent to or greater than 85 dBA, Lex,8. In other words, farmers and other employers shall ensure employees are not exposed to 85 decibels of sound for duration of approximately eight hours.  This is due to the possibility of hearing damage occurring.

There are different methods to measure decibels in a work environment. They include:

  • Computer program and equipment: Easy to operate and cost effective. Not very mobile.
  • Mobile app: Easy and quick to use. Convenient to acquire.
  • Decibel meter: Most accurate, but at least $200.

 

Examples of Decibel Levels (Approximately)

  • Garbage Disposal 80 dBA
  • Milling machine 85 dBA
  • City traffic, inside the car 85 dBA

Common Farm Situations

  • Average tractor sitting idle 85 dBA
  • Tractor (under full load) 120 dBA
  • Chain saw (operating) 94-116 dBA
  • Orchard Sprayer 85-100 dBA

While operating a tractor for an extensive amount of time, farmers would be required to supply their employees with adequate hearing protection. Farmers should also consider other common activities that occur on a day to day basis, such as machine work, using tools, and even live-stock birth.  For example, a handsaw produces on average 85 decibels and an electric drill produces on average 95 decibels.

 

Safety Procedures

Farmers need to determine which tasks involve sound levels equivalent to 85 decibels or above, with exposure time of approximately eight hours or more. This can be determined by using any of the three instruments listed above. If the decibel rating is over 85 dBA and employees will be exposed to this level of sound for eight hours or longer, the famer shall change the work environment so the exposure is under a hazardous level or supply adequate hearing protection.

Once these jobs are discovered, farmers can take measures to protect their employees hearing. In situations where hearing protection devices are appropriate farmers might consider: ear muffs, ear plugs and canal caps. Hearing protection devices are given an NRR or noise reduction rating. This rating uses a simply subtraction method where if a set of ear plugs is given a 30 dBA NRR, and workers are exposed to 85 dBA, then the ear protection reduces the noise to 55 dBA.

Training and instructing employees on the proper fitting, inspection and maintenance and, if applicable, the cleaning and disinfection of hearing protection devices is another responsibility employers will be required to undertake. Additionally, employers will be required to provide visible signage warning of areas where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA.

 

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r15381

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Part one of two.

As of July 1st 2016 all employers in Ontario, including farmers, are required to comply with new workplace noise regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The legislation states that farmers and other employers shall ensure that their employees are not exposed to hazardous levels of noise. Hazardous noise, according to the legislation, is 85 dBA or louder, for a time period of approximately eight hours. Examples of 85 dBA are illustrated below.

This legislation does not apply to self-employed farmers with no employees.

 

What this Means to Farmers

This results in additional responsibilities for farmers to ensure safe working conditions for their employees.

Key changes:

  • Farmers shall take reasonable measures for the circumstances, to protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels.
  • Noise protective measures may be engineering controls (altering work environment), work practices and, where required and permitted, hearing protection devices.
  • Measurements of sound levels in the workplace (for the purpose of determining appropriate protective measures) shall be done without regard to the use or effect of hearing protective devices.
  • Employers should ensure that workers are not exposed to hazardous sound levels of 85 dBA, for eight hours.
  • Except for certain circumstances, employers shall protect workers from exposure to hazardous sound levels without requiring workers to wear hearing protective devices.
  • Protective hearing devices are not to be used as a primary means of protecting hearing only in the certain circumstances listed below.
  • Where practicable, clearly visible warning signs shall be posted at every approach to an area in the workplace where the sound level regularly exceeds 85 dBA.

 

The Use of Hearing Protective Devices

Hearing protective devices shall be used if other forms of protection such as modifying equipment, absorbing noise, or changing frequency of noise cannot be achieved due to:

  • not in existence or are not obtainable;
  • not reasonable or not practical to adopt, install or provide because of the duration or frequency of the exposures or because of the nature of the process, operation or work;
  • rendered ineffective; or
  • are ineffective to prevent, control or limit exposure because of an emergency.

 

Training and Instruction on the Use of Hearing Protective Devices

If hearing protection devices are provided employers shall also provide adequate training and instruction on the care and use of the device including its limitations, proper fit, inspection and maintenance and if applicable the cleaning and disinfection of the device.

 

 

Selecting Hearing Protection Devices

When selecting hearing protection devices consider:

  • sound levels to which a worker is exposed;
  • the reduction provided by the device; and
  • The manufacturer’s information about the use and limitations of the device.

A hearing protection device shall be used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Summary of Changes 

In situations where noise levels are hazardous farmers shall consider the particular circumstances of the situation and use engineering controls, safe work practices and in certain circumstances, provide employees with proper hearing protection devices and necessary training for how to use.

 

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r15381

 

 

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Defining Sustainability

Sustainability is a holistic, long-term approach to business.  It maximizes the economic and environmental stability, equity, and health of the farm, business, and family.

A sustainable approach to farming is more than talking about environmental actions or maximizing profits.

Sustainability focusses on business processes and practices, rather than a specific food, fibre, or feed output.  It integrates economic, environmental and societal values to create a Triple Bottom Line (i.e. understanding and accounting for three “bottom lines”: economic, social, and enviornment, instead of simply looking at a cash flow analysis for actions in your operations).  This is very different from a purely profit-driven approach, where businesses benefit economically, but often at the expense of the environment and society.

Agricultural Context

Sustainable Agriculture is…

“the efficient production of safe, high quality agricultural product, in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of the farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species.” (Sustainable Agricultural Initiative Platform, 2010)

There is a growing global demand to increase sustainability in agriculture.  What this means on-farm differs depending on where the farm is (the Place), what the farm produces (the Product), and where the product is sold and for what price (the Price). Regardless of what is purchased, grown, or sold, there are broad perspectives that can increase the sustainability of every agri-business by addressing the TBL of economic profitability, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Consumers are increasingly concerned with how their food is grown and processed.  The single largest share of impact within the supply chain is the food production itself. Food processors and retailers need long-term and ever-increasing supplies of quality raw materials. Unpredictable weather extremes and global water scarcity make agricultural production and food processing more volatile.  Sustainable practices help ensure businesses along the entire supply chain have reliable sources of product.  At the same time, reliability creates new opportunities for enhanced branding to meet consumer demand.  Sustainable sourcing is a point of differentiation in the marketplace.

While these components are discussed separately below, their goals overlap; impacting and influencing each other.  For example, economic decisions will impact the environmental and social components; the environmental actions taken will impact the economic output and social well-being.

Economic Profitability

To be sustainable, a farm must be economically viable.  While the environmental and social pillars of sustainability may not always translate into immediate economic profit, sustainable practices will have a positive economic impact on the farm.

For example, the diversification of crops can help reduce financial risk.  Over time, diversification of crops can reduce financial risk while improving water quality and increasing other environmental benefits that raise the value of the farm itself.

These factors must be taken into consideration when managing a farm business.

Production and machinery costs are directly affected by sustainable practices.  Fertilizer and pesticide applications can be applied responsibly and, in some cases reduced, based on crop rotation, variety selection or market availability for end-product.  Sometime overall yield may decrease, but differences between production cost and revenue can be improved, leading to increased profitability for the farm.  Likewise, management, marketing skills, and experience of decision-makers will have direct economic effects on the business.

Indicators of your farm’s economic profitability may include:

  • increasing net worth or savings,
  • debt is consistently decreasing, and/or,
  • farm is consistently profitable year after year.

Environmental Stewardship

Stewardship is a familiar concept to farmers.  For many, this is what comes to mind when they think of sustainable agriculture.  Environmental stewardship uses ecologically-sound practices that have a neutral or positive impact on the natural resources and non-renewable resources used on-farm.  It can mean reversing damage that has already occurred, like soil erosion or draining of wetlands.  It can also be enhanced by taking steps to prevent the future degradation of land and water resources through conservation practices, like:

  • naturalizing riparian zones,
  • using smart cattle watering practices,
  • establishing proper cover crops.

These are factors that have direct impacts on your cost of production and economic profitability components of sustainability.

Another key to successful environmental stewardship lies in soil health.  Maintaining adequate soil organic matter, biological activity and nutrient balance are essential to feed crops in the long-term production of the business.

There are many ways to enhance soil fertility and improve soil health, such as including legumes in crop rotation, using manure or compost instead of and /or in complement to synthetic fertilizers, and maintaining a working knowledge of the fertility of the fields so as to properly manage them.

Other stewardship concepts include:

  • protecting water quality,
  • year-round soil cover (residue or cover crop),
  • integrating crop and animal systems to maximize efficiencies, nutrients and energy,
  • controlling invasive plants.

Some traditional practices conflict with sustainable practices, because they severely damage the soil structure and resiliency of a field to adapt to extreme weather events, climate change, and the stresses of intensive crop production.

All practices, new and traditional, must be considered when implementing sustainable farming practices.

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility relates to the quality of life for everyone who interacts with the business: employees, customers, neighbours, local community members, and the farmer.  The most prominent examples of this in rural Ontario are agricultural cooperatives, farmers’ markets, on-farm events and twilight tours.  Other examples occur within the business itself, like fair treatment of workers and good business practices.

Some indicators of social responsibility include:

  • support for other local businesses and families within the community, circulating money within the local as well as the global economy,
  • the rural community population is stable or increasing,
  • post-secondary school graduates return to the community after graduation, to succeed on family farms or with associated businesses.

Summary

Sustainable agriculture is defined by three interactive components: economic profitability, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility.  It is important that sustainability is embraced at all levels; farm practices can have compound impacts across the entire supply chain in very complex ways.

Sustainability is a goal. However, a farm should never expect to “achieve sustainability”.  As farm practices become more sustainable, farmers gain a deeper understanding of the natural resources they steward and how this affects their business.

A competent working knowledge of sustainability creates further opportunities for new sustainability practices.  This in turn increases the farmer’s ability to respond to market pressures and environmental conditions, and help develop a robust and resilient business. The profit in sustainable practices is both tangible and intangible. It includes economic gain, environmental stability and social benefit.

Sustainability, like our seasons, is a never-ending journey, which is why it is so important to continue to work towards this goal.

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The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management estimates that barn fires cost Ontario farmers more than $25 million per year (2012-2014 average)

Do you know what to do in the event of a farm emergency? Do you know what to do if you have deadstock to manage?

Barn fires, natural disasters, equipment failures and diseases are devastating events for farmers, their families and workers, and the neighbouring community. Planning ahead to reduce risks, and preventing accidents with a safe operation will help to protect employees, family members and animals.

Emergency events can cause substantial loss to a farm operation and create unique challenges for farmers, including disposing of large volumes of deadstock. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a regulation that gives you options for deadstock management. These options help to protect water quality, reduce environmental impacts and minimize biosecurity hazards, such as scavenging.

Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method.

In emergency situations, you can apply to OMAFRA for an Emergency Authorization for the storage, disposal or transportation of deadstock. These authorizations can be used when emergency conditions exist that make it difficult for you to dispose of deadstock according to the regulation.

OMAFRA works with the province’s farmers, commodity groups, insurance companies, municipalities and trucking companies to ensure that deadstock is disposed of as soon as possible. In granting an exemption, OMAFRA considers the various factors of the situation, such as:

  • the urgency of the situation
  • the number of animals to be disposed
  • biosecurity risks
  • time of year
  • the condition of the deadstock
  • site conditions, including proximity to tile drains, location of surface water and wells, and depth to groundwater

Planning ahead can help alleviate some of the stress during an emergency. Our web page found at ontario.ca/farmsafety has useful resources for farm owners, including information on preventative maintenance for farm buildings and our book, “Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm.” We encourage you to develop a contingency plan for emergency situations. Visit ontario.ca/deadstock for information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation.

For help with managing deadstock in an emergency situation, you can contact an OMAFRA environmental specialist or engineer in your region, or the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

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Seeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises

The Conference Board of Canada, 61 pages, June 2013

Report by Erin Butler, James Stuckey

The modern farming landscape is changing. This report considers the state of farming business in Canada, and how it can be improved to achieve greater economic and social value.

Document Highlights

Farming in Canada has deep roots and traditions, but the sector undergoes significant changes: the old ways of doing things are no longer guarantors of success. Seeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises explores the modern realities of farming business, and how it can be bolstered to achieve even more of the economic and social value that consumers expect. The report reveals that Canada’s farming sector is increasingly dynamic, presenting new opportunities, as well as risks and challenges. Although farmers have long been skilled at managing the growth of crops and livestock, they must now also be increasingly skilled at managing their businesses. This report considers the farm management issues facing farming today.

More details and to download the report>>

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