New support line available for Alberta farmers

AgSafe Alberta hotline there to help navigate new farm rules and regulations

A new information hotline to help those involved in agriculture is ready, willing and able to assist in navigating the recently introduced regulatory framework.

The hotline — 1-833-9AG-SAFE (942-7233) — which is available 24 hours per day year-round and confidential went live on June 14.

AgSafe Alberta, an industry-led agency created last year, was designed to help deliver and develop farm safety management programs and resources in order to give Alberta agricultural operations assistance when dealing with incidents. The group has a board of directors consisting of representation from 26 crop and livestock producer groups along with a small number of staff.

“We used AgSafe BC as a model for setting up AgSafe Alberta and this was one of the services that they offered,” explained executive director Jody Wacowich.

“The board felt that this would be an important tool to support producers through an incident and trying to help them understand the process that is new to farms and ranches in Alberta.”

Despite the hotline being up for over a month, it has not been utilized yet.

“We have not received any calls to the hotline yet,” Wacowich said.

“You could say this is a good thing that there were not any major farm accidents, but we are also working on creating the awareness of the line across the province as well.”

A major incident would include a fatality or injury, property damage and even a near miss. According to Wacowich, the hotline is there to assist.

“The team at AgSafe Alberta is dedicated to providing support to our farmers and ranchers as they work through the process of managing a serious incident,” she said.

However, since calling in is voluntary and confidential, staff will do what they can to help the individual determine what needs to be done, but contacting the proper regulatory authorities is up to the farmer.

“We would like the callers to call emergency services first and make sure that the injured person gets the help they need as quickly as possible. We want them to call us after when they have questions or know that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is coming out to investigate,” she stated.

“Depending on the type of incident, there are legal requirements to report, so we would let the caller know what those are so that they can make the call.”

The hotline is free as are any of the services and advice given.

“We offer support over the phone and we can try to also get a team member out in person if requested or needed. If there is a stop-work order issued on the farm, we want to be able to find solutions to get the farm or ranch operating again, especially if we are in a time-sensitive situation like feeding animals or harvest,” added Wacowich.

“AgSafe Alberta is not government, we are industry-led and we want to support resources and education to producers on the OHS legislation and how it affects farms and ranches. The hotline is one of many tools we offer to do this.”

More information about AgSafe Alberta and what they can do for producers is available at www.agsafeab.ca.

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