Considerations for Health and Safety Training for Family and Staff Members

The Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates health and safety training with an employer with more than five employees. There must be a written occupational health and safety policy and a program to implement that policy.

The program will vary depending upon the hazards at the particular workplace but may include all or some of the following:

  • Workplace violence and harassment policies;
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training. Anyone working with or around hazardous materials is required by law to be WHMIS trained. All employers are required to show diligence in ensuring their employees are WHMIS trained. WHMIS systems must be reviewed every year, including some measure of training;
  • Hazardous material spills response procedure;
  • Confined space entry procedure;
  • Lock out procedure;
  • Machine guarding;
  • Maintenance and repairs schedule;
  • Protective equipment protocols;
  • Emergency procedures;
  • First aid, CPR and rescue procedures;
  • Portable AED defibrillators and epipens;
  • Proper use of health and safety equipment giudelines;
  • Electrical safety guidelines;
  • Fire prevention; and
  • Engineering controls (e.g. ventilation)

Train family members and employees on the use of emergency equipment, how to turn off powered equipment, stop flow of liquids and gases, use of fire extinguishers, use of absorbents, starting generators, first aid, etc. Some insurance companies may be able to assist with providing fire extinguishers and/or training in their use.

At least once a year, formally discuss emergency plans. Ensure everyone knows the farm response procedures.

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At least once a year, formally discuss emergency plans. Ensure everyone knows the farm response procedures.

Consider running a mock emergency drill to test out response protocols.

Also Consider

General Property Knowledge

  • Onboarding orientation for new employees, and when changes occur on farm;
  • Ensure the locations are known and they are trained in the safe use of fire extinguishers;
  • Ensure family members/staff know where electrical and gas shut-offs are located;
  • How to turn off powered equipment and stop the flow of liquids and gases, e.g. natural gas lines;
  • Proper start-up and operation of generator(s) via manufacturer’s instructions, including the priority order of start-up if you have multiple generators;
  • How to conduct maintenance checks on equipment;
  • Chainsaw safety for downed trees;
  • Forklift training;
  • Grower Pesticide Safety Course; and
  • Proper cleaning and sanitation of barns, vehicles and equipment.

Flock Management Skills

  • How to assess/evaluate warning signs of a possible flock health issues;
  • Familiarity with your biosecurity principles and plan;
  • Proper techniques for administering vaccines and medicines;
  • Poultry euthanasia training;
  • How to handle carcasses;
  • How to identify a bird in stress; and
  • Proper disposal of deadstock including when and who to contact.


Consider running a mock emergency drill to test out response protocols.

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Consider that you may be isolated for some time as suppliers may not be able to access some roads. Make sure that you have adequate water, feed, bedding material, medications, etc. on hand for an extended period.

To learn more about the types of alerts that are broadcasted, visit the Alert Ready website at


Human Health Considerations

  • Fit testing for face masks/respirators;
  • How to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress in humans; and
  • How to recognize mental stress.

Sample policies are available on the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ‘s website. If you have other specific training for equipment or processes be sure to include them.


Building Safety and Back Up Systems

  • Make sure all electrical equipment is CSA approved, safely installed and away from flammable material;
  • Identify alternate water or power sources that could supply your farming operation; and
  • If you rent out houses or property, have contact information for your renters including who and how many individuals reside at that location.

Preparing Your Property

Ensure your property can be easily identified by first responders,
e.g. 911 address prominently displayed at laneway entrance.

  • Farm laneway gates/entrances should be at least 12 to 16 feet wide and height clearance of 15 ft;
  • Gates and laneway entrances from public road should be at least twice as wide with same overhead clearance to accommodate large emergency response vehicles;
  • Do not block laneways to your barn with tractors and other vehicles or equipment; and
  • Control grass and other vegetation around buildings. 

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Preparing Your Barn:

For barns on property with no dwellings: Post the owner’s/farm manager’s contact information on the outside these buildings in clearly visible locations.

  • Ensure to have a back up person and plan of care in place should you not be able to reach the property;
  • Plan how to provide adequate ventilation – system capacities, regular maintenance of ventilation equipment;
  • Ensure you have an appropriately sized generator to run your essential equipment and services such as water pump, feed augers, ventilation fans, etc.;
  • Create a schedule to perform regular generator maintenance;
  • Check that the generator is working properly before an extreme temperature event to ensure proper ventilation / heat in the barn if loss of power occurs. This may be required by your insurance company;
  • Purchase extra fuel in case of prolonged disruptions;
  • Note an alternative fuel supplier for the generator;
  • Do not store combustible materials in a barn that is used to house animals; and
  • Have non-expired fire extinguishers in all barns and vehicles.

Contact your marketing association or processor regarding the sale of animals approaching marketing weight when a severe weather is predicted.

Take photographs or videos of your farm property and buildings (inside and out) and store in multiple secure locations. These can be very useful for insurance purposes and also for first responders regarding structural questions (type of construction) when responding to a damaged building due to fire, flood and collapse.



Consider how you would be warned of a natural or widespread disaster. Is your cell phone or computer registered with a local area emergency alert system? Some radio and television stations offer
the service as well as some municipalities. The province issues Red Alerts for an “imminent threat to life, public safety or property”.

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Tip: Vehicles and equipment may have to be moved quickly during an emergency. Ensure children are safe around moving vehicles. Establish a secure location for a spare key rack for farm equipment, personal vehicles and buildings. Ensure the keys are clearly and specifically labeled. Five keys on the same ring labeled “tractor” when you have multiple tractors is not helpful.

Maps and Considerations

Complete a farm site map, farm inventories, and contact lists. Templates and forms are provided in the My Farm section.

In the event of an emergency, record the details of any damages by photograph or video if possible, and document actions taken with timelines included.

Establish an on-site and off-site meeting location for family and employees. The on-site meeting location will allow you to take count of everyone who is expected to be on-farm during an emergency. A designated off-site meeting location is especially important if there is a natural disaster (e.g. tornado or flooding) that makes travel to the farm dangerous or restricts communication in that area.


Identify a central telephone number and contact person for family members and employees to call in the event of a natural disaster or other off-farm emergency to confirm they are safe and to coordinate response activities. Consider a cell phone number or someone outside your immediate area in case of widespread power outages. Non-voice channels like texting, email or social media use less bandwidth than voice communications and may work even when the land lines do not.

If an emergency requires that you evacuate your premises, time permitting, leave a note informing others when you left and where you went. Post to your social media accounts. If you have a mailbox, leave the note there and consider putting it into a plastic bag or sleeve for protection. 

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Tip: Put labels on all feed bins, tanks, and chemical and fuel containers so others will know what they contain. Also ensure electrical panels are clearly and correctly labeled.