A farmer was recently convicted as an employer under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA") in relation to an incident that occurred on the employer's farm. The incident resulted in an ankle injury to the employer's worker. This is the first conviction for a farming operation since farming operations were included in coverage under the OHSA in June 2006.
The incident occurred when the employer and worker were harvesting tomatoes using a vehicle called a tomato harvester. The conveyor on the harvester jammed so the worker went to investigate the problem. The employer then decided to reverse the vehicle and he advised the worker, but apparently the worker did not hear him. As the worker was standing on one of the tires of the harvester, the employer reversed the vehicle and caused the worker's legs to become caught, resulting in the injury.
The employer was convicted for his failure to implement a procedure for the safe use of the harvester and failure to ensure the worker was in a safe position. The fine was $5,000. Like other industry sectors, farming operations have significant hazards to which workers may be exposed. Some hazards include the potential to be hit by, caught in or between moving equipment, entrapment, exposure to hazardous substances, injuries related to working with livestock,musculoskeletal injuries, and others. Hazards in this industry have always existed so now that farming operations are covered by the OHSA the expectation is that the safety of a farming workplace will be improved and accidents reduced