Students dig primer on safety on the farm

‘It’s better to be a live chicken than a dead duck’

Erskine School students greet Alberta Farm Safety Centre instructor Lori Blake

An Alberta Farm Safety Centre instructor visited Erskine School last Thursday to reinforce the importance of safety on the farm.

Lori Blake’s visit came as the Stettler community is still reeling from the farm-related deaths of two members of the farming community in as many months.

Blake is in her ninth year of delivering farm safety messages to 150 schools in seven school divisions. The public and Hutterite schools in the Clearview School Division are among those that receive an annual visit.

The safety program, called “Safety Smarts,” targets kindergarten to Grade 6 students to be injury-prevention conscious.

Blake said 98 per cent of farm-related accidents could have been prevented.

She teaches students to recognize the dangers and offers basic rules of farm safety.

“One seat — one rider,” “Wear a helmet,” “Don’t take chances,” “Use your melon,” and “Listen to mom and dad,” were some of the points of advice she offered.

“It’s better to be a live chicken than a dead duck,” Blake said.

Topics included animal, grain and machine safety, use of helmets and thin-ice precautions.

The use of “real-life” experiences, props, audiovisual aids and audience participation kept the attention of the Erskine students, as they learned about the importance of making safe choices.

Some students shared safety-related stories of their own.

Statistics from the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research show almost 20 Albertans die each year in farm-related injuries.

The number of deaths of children under 14 years old has risen significantly.

In 1992, there were 6.3 deaths of children per 100,000 farm population. By 2009, that number had risen to 16.3.

Agriculture is not regulated under the legislation of Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, but workers at grain elevators, seed cleaning plants and feed mills are included under federal jurisdiction.

Data released by Canadian Agriculture Injury Reporting showed 355 Albertans were killed in agriculture injury events from 1990 to 2009.

Of those deaths, 89 per cent were male, 68 per cent involved machines and for every death there were 25 hospital admissions, with 11 of those being major trauma admissions.

The top five causes of agricultural fatalities were machine run-overs, machine rollovers, pinned or struck by a machine, animal related and machine entanglements.

Blake said “farmers are creatures of habit — sometimes bad habits.”

The Alberta Farm Safety Centre also offers adult seminars to promote injury prevention and advance farm safety.

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