The Facts

Fatal Agricultural Injuries in Ontario from 1990 to 20082:

  • 542 people were killed in agricultural accidents;
  • The top five causes of agricultural fatalities in Ontario were machine rollovers (23%), machine run overs (21%), machine entanglements (8%), animal-related incidents, and being struck by a non-machine object (both 6%); and
  • 50% of fatalities due to toxic substance exposure were attributed to hydrogen sulfide (manure gas) poisoning.

4,756 agriculture-related hospitalizations injuries occured in Ontario from 1990 to 2008.  This resulted in an average of 264 admissions each year.

The top causes of agricultural injury hospitalizations in Ontario were animal-related and entanglement/caught in machinery (each with 16%), falls from height (14%), and machine run overs (10%).

On the Farm, Amputation Accidents Generally Fall Into Four Categories:

1) Entanglement: Occurs when clothes, jacket or shoe strings, gloves, long hair, etc. get caught in moving parts (e.g. PTO shafts, belts, pulleys, balers, and combines). The best way to prevent entanglement is to completely shut down and disable machinery prior to working or moving next to the equipment.

2) Entrapment: Example, combine heads and augers and all other equipemtn that are designed to trap and pull.

3) Crushing: Can occur from post drivers or heavy equipment pinning certain body parts. This type of injury usually causes internal damage, to the arm or leg, and eventually ends in amputation.

4) Infection: Usually due to a dirty wound. The limb may survive initial trauma, but amputation can be required following days or weeks of intensive therapy.

Other hazards include: burns from heaters, welders, hot equipment parts, etc.; chemical burns or irritation from caustics, detergents, and disinfectants; slips and falls; and, head injuries.

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At least one family member or employee should have formal first aid and CPR training. Ideally, more than a single person should, as that person might not be available when needed orsould be the person in need of care. Ensure the training is kept up to date. A first aid app can be downloaded to your phone for quick reference; there are numerous free ones available such as the one through the Canadian Red Cross.

When new employees are hired, review all emergency procedures, location of emergency response equipment (e.g. fire extinguishers, first aid kits, spill kit, eye and hand wash stations, emergency response plan binder, etc.), and safe operating practices for vehicles and equipment as part of their orientation. Have them demonstrate the safe operation of the equipment for you. This orientation must take place before they begin their farm duties.

Have first aid kits in farm equipment (e.g. tractors, combines, trucks, etc.), barn(s), chemical storage area, etc. Ensure family members and farm workers know the location of the kits and mark the locations on your farm map . Replenish kit contents regularly.

When working around the farm, carry a cell phone with you at all times. If you tend to leave your cell phone in a vehicle cab, wear a Bluetooth earpiece or smartwatch so that you can access your phone to call for assistance if injured.

If there is a dog on the property, consider posting “Dog on Property” signs.

Mitigating Self Injury

Equipment Considerations:

Depending on the type of machinery and equipment being worked on, consider implementing a lock out, tag out procedure. The power source or switch is locked, and a tag is placed on the lock identifying the worker who has placed it. The worker then holds the key for the lock ensuring that only he or she can start the machine. This prevents accidental start-up of a machine.

Augers should always have guards on them. Remember to turn off all machinary prior to performing maintence on them.

Performing Vaccination Injections Considerations:

Care must be taken when performing vaccination injections. Poorly injected products could create drug residues, scar tissue or abscesses and can also injure the person administering the injection. Training on proper vaccination injection techniques should be provided by the flock veterinarian or the vaccine company representatives. Purchase a sharps container and safely dispose of used needles. Keep the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) readily available for each vaccine used.

  • In the case of accidental self injection, immediately go to the hospital and give the SDS to the attending physician; and
  • For aerosol vaccinations, follow the recommended safety procedures and guidelines from the vaccines company and your veterinarian.

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Always ensure you know where the children are located and are well out of the way when operating machinery.

Child Safety

Most importantly, children learn by imitation. If you practice and value farm safety, so will your child. Children who are physically able to be involved in farm work should be assigned age-appropriate tasks and continually trained to perform them. They should also be constantly supervised.

Walk through your farm and assess every area for hazards that could injure children. Try to see things from your child’s point of view according to their age, size and ability. Correct obvious hazards.

 For young children, design a fenced “safe play area.” This area should be near the house and away from work activities.


2 Fatality and hospitalized injury statistics taken from Agricultural Fatalities and Hospitalizations in Ontario 1990 – 2008, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, 2011.

Consider the following:

  • Fencing off dangerous water sources such as ponds, manure tanks/lagoons, and creek;
  • Make sure that hazardous materials are locked and inaccessible;
  • Don’t let your child, or any other person, ride on farm machinery that isn’t designed for passengers;
  • Teach children about both the positive and dangerous aspects of livestock and farm animals;
  • Equip all barns, farm shops, chemical storage areas, livestock pens, etc. with latches that can be locked or secured so that young children cannot enter; and
  • Always turn equipment off, lower hydraulics and remove the key before leaving equipment unattended.

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Farmers are five times more likely to be killed through an occupational accident than workers in any other industry.

Personal Injury Response Procedures

Use Your Emergency Contact List of who to call and follow your General Procedures, also include the following:


Call 911, tell the dispatcher the nature of the injury and what is the immediate response that is needed.

Steps or Activities that should be taken:

  • Until first responder arrives, render first aid and emergency medical treatment to the best of your abilities and First Aid training;
  • Do not move victim(s) unless you must do so for their safety and to prevent further injury;
  • Do not interfere with the scene of the accident unless it is critical for the safety of the victim;
  • To the extent possible, use your training experience to prevent further damage to people, animals, environment and farm assets through quick and appropriate action and proper use of any emergency response equipment; and
  • Try to keep the person calm.

Upon arrival of emergency first responders, direct them to the location of any victims or facilities that require their attention and services.

Direct all inquiries to farm management. When the emergency is over, farm management and/or skilled investigators will conduct a proper inquiry.


If Critical Injury or Fatality:

  • Contact Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre: 1-877-202-0008
  • Contact Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) within three days (1-800-387-0750)

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