Hog farm workers provide info on job hazards, recommendations

RED DEER — Talking with farm workers about the hazards they experience on the job is a new approach for Alberta Agriculture’s farm safety program.

Five questions were presented to 250 pork producers at a recent hog meeting to collect information about the hazards they see daily. The results will be shared with farm managers and Alberta Pork to build more awareness about farm safety.

“This is valuable information to share with the industry and learn from because at the end of the day, we are all able to go home safely,” Nicole Hornett of Alberta Agriculture said during a swine technology workshop held in Red Deer Oct. 21.

The questions centred around the five common hog barn hazards: physical, biological, chemical, psychosocial and ergonomic. They were asked which hazard concerns them most.

Physical hazards have a direct impact on the body: working with augers, pressure washers or being hurt by livestock. Tripping, falling from heights, slipping, electrical equipment, noise and temperature are also of concern.

Biological threats come from being in contact with viruses, bacteria, manure, vaccines, medications or surging allergic reactions.

Chemical hazards deal with handling sanitizers, disinfectants, toxic chemicals and gasoline and exposure to gas from manure pits or exhaust fumes from generators and propane heaters.

Psychosocial hazards affect workers’ mental health and emotional well-being: working alone, working long hours, bullying, stress, fatigue, language barriers and emotional distress from animal deaths.

Ergonomic hazards include standing on concrete, heavy lifting, twisting to do tasks, repetitive tasks, vibration and muscle soreness from using equipment.

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