On-Farm Worker Safety

Prepare for the Heat - You Know It's Coming!


It’s just a matter of time before the cold, rainy spring turns into a blistering hot summer. In fact, a recent study has found the number of extremely hot days has been increasing globally over the past 15 years. These heat waves may last only a week or two, but in farming this heat can be very hard to get away from. Workers can suffer debilitating effects and even death. A few simple steps taken now can keep your people thriving and productive even in the hottest weather. Employers, supervisors and workers all can make a difference in their workplaces. 
Here is a 10-step plan of action. 
Steps for employers
1. Put a policy and procedures in place, based on a risk assessment. Ask questions, such as have workers been affected by heat in the past? Is work done in direct sunlight? Are there heat producing processes or equipment in the workplace? How hot is it in the hay mow? This will help you get an idea of the magnitude of the issue. If heat stress may be a hazard, consider conducting heat stress measurements and developing a control plan. Include engineering controls, such as insulating hot surfaces. 
2. Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures. Include heat stress symptoms, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone starts showing symptoms. Heat stress training is particularly critical for young and new workers, as well as all manual workers. Research conducted by the Institute for Work & Health shows that heat strokes, sunstrokes and other heat illnesses disproportionately affect those on the job less than two months. 
Steps for supervisors
3. Acclimatize workers to hot conditions, and watch out for de-acclimatization. Workers can lose their tolerance in only four days.
4. Schedule work in the hottest locations for cooler times of day. Build cool-down breaks into work schedules. Adjust the frequency and duration of breaks as needed. An example would be having lunch or a break in a shady area.  
5. Get to know your workplace and your workers. “Are there certain jobs at elevated risk? Is anybody working outside today? Keep your eyes and ears open: ‘Is so-and-so looking a little different from how he normally looks? A little more flushed? Sitting down more?’”
6. Ensure ready access to cool water in convenient, visible locations. Workers need to replenish their fluids if they are becoming dehydrated. 
7. Supply protective equipment and clothing as needed, such as water-dampened bandanas or other breathable, cooling clothing options, including a broad rimmed hat. 
8. Monitor weather forecasts. “If it’s Tuesday and you know superhot weather is coming on Thursday, ask yourself, ‘Who will be working then? What will they be doing? Who should I watch out for?’”
9. Be extra vigilant in extreme conditions. “Check on workers frequently. If you can’t do this, then assign a temporary pair of eyes to do it for you.”
Steps for workers
10. Watch out for each other and speak up. “People suffering from heat stress don’t always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone’s behaviour is ‘more than usual’ — more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating — it could be a sign of heat stress.” Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches. 
Everything you need to create a heat stress plan is available at http://www.wsps.ca/Information-Resources/Topics/Heat-Stress.aspx:
  • humidex-based heat response plan
  • heat stress poster
  • heat stress awareness sessions conducted on site by WSPS safety experts
  • more articles on heat stress

WSPS Partners in Prevention 2017 Conference

Join WSPS on May 2-3 in Mississauga, ON for Partners in Prevention 2017 'The New Workplace - Connect, Collaborate, Create' leading health and safety conference. It's the place to be to make new contacts and find innovative resources and solutions to keep your workers safe. The largest annual event of its kind, the conference features speakers from across North America, training sessions on a variety of topics, and more than 400 booths showcasing the latest in market trends, products and services for your workplace.

Visit www.wsps.ca for more information.

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services eCourse Discounts



Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) is offering a 15% discount on eCourses.  eCourses have been developed by subject matter specialists and reviewed by representatives from labour, employees and government. Select from over 152 eCourses in total, including 65 in French, including the following top selling courses:

  • Accident Investigation
  • WHMIS 2015
  • Working at Heights
  • Ladder Safety
  • Health and Safety Awareness Training
  • Health and Safety for Managers and Supervisors 

Click here to view Ontario-based eCourses and obtain registration details.

Heat Stress Awareness and education initiatives


With this summer's extremely hot weather, the risk of heat stress for workers increases. WSPS recommends developing a Heat Stress Response Plan for your operation. Below are five  symptoms of heat stress to watch for, as well as links to heat and sun safety related information in English and Spanish:

  1. Heat rash
  2. Syncope or fainting
  3. Heat cramps – muscle spasms in stomach, legs, arms. Remedy: cool down, drink water or electrolyte sports drinks, massage and stretch.
  4. Heat exhaustion – resembles shock (feeling of faintness/nauseated, low blood pressure, skin may be hot and red, victim may have a fever).
  5. Heat stroke – brain cannot regulate the body’s temperature and stops sweating. Body over heats, victim experiences mental confusion and needs immediate medical attention.

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Heat Stress (English & Spanish) - To be able to identify symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion and recognize emergency procedures for both.

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Heat Stress (English)  280 KB PDFhttp://wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Heat-Stress.pdf?ext=.pdf

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Heat Stress (Spanish)  668 KB PDFhttp://wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Heat-Stress-(Spanish).pdf?ext=.pdf

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Sun Exposure (English & Spanish) - To learn the possible outcomes of overexposure to the sun, and how to prevent overexposure.

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Sun Exposure (English)  298 KB PDFhttp://wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Sun-Exposure.pdf?ext=.pdf

    Agricultural Safety Topic - Sun Exposure (Spanish)  696 KB PDFhttp://wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Sun-Exposure-(Spanish).pdf?ext=.pdf

    OHSCO Heat Stress Posterhttp://wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/fd_heat_poster.pdf?ext=.pdf

    A companion piece to the OHSCO Heat Stress Awareness Guide, this poster can be displayed in your workplace and offers simple tips that can help your workers protect themselves from the deadly symptoms of heat stress.

New Noise Requirements take effect July 1, 2016


If your farming operation is covered under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, then as of July 1 the operation must comply with noise prevention requirements that already apply to other industry sectors. But even if your operation is not covered, noise may still be a hazard. Click here to learn more about how you can protect the hearing of everyone in your operation, and how we can help you do it and see the below links to downloadable Noise resources.

•Agricultural Safety Topic – Protecting against Noise (English) http://www.wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/Agricultural-Safety-Topic-Protecting-Against-Noise.pdf?ext=.pdf

•Hearing Conservation http://www.wsps.ca/WSPS/media/Site/Resources/Downloads/HearingConservation_Final.pdf?ext=.pdf

"Compiled from information by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). To speak with a WSPS occupational hygienist who can conduct noise assessments and work with you to develop and implement noise control strategies, call WSPS Customer Care at: 1-877-494-WSPS (9777)."

Tree Fruit and Grape Health and Safety Workshop

The following workshop is FREE to Ontario tender fruit, apple and grape growers:

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Rittenhouse Hall, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs office
4890 Victoria Ave. N, Vineland Station
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Refreshments and lunch will be provided.
Please contact Sylvana at 905 688-0990 ext 231.

Attendance at the workshop will fulfill the requirements of the mandatory occupational health and safety awareness training for employers and supervisors.

Members will leave the workshop with the health and safety policy and workplace violence and harassment prevention policy for their operation, and a further understanding of their responsibilities.

Worker Safety Flyer and Agenda

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.  The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of Growing Forward 2 in Ontario.



minimum wage increased on October 1, 2015

New Rates:

  • General Minimum Wage: $11.25 per hour (This applies to most employees)
  • Student Minimum Wage: $10.55 per hour (This applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session, or work during a school break or summer holidays)

Read more Ministry of Labour

Emergency Numbers

Can you, your family and staff quickly access emergency phone numbers in an emergency?  The Ontario Pesticide Education Program has provided a template to insert your contact numbers and post in key areas.


Download Emergency Numbers poster

Posters for on-farm food safety


 The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has developed a series of Good Agriculture Practices posters that are available free of charge to producers. The posters are 8 1/2 x 11" in size and available in English/Spanish or French/Spanish. They are rip and weather resitant making them durable enough to use in and around your farm.

The posters provide visual instructions for best practices on a variety of topics, including:

  •  Hand washing
  • Food handling
  • Proper use of hand sanitizers
  • Proper toilet use
  • Food storage and packaging
  • Vehicle inspection for food transportation

Food safety practices contribute to competitive, productive and sustainable agri-food business. For more information and to see or order the posters, visit the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website at www.ontario.ca/goodagpractices or call 1-877-424-1300.

 Protecting Outdoor Workers

Working outdoors has its own particular risks.  The following resources are available from the Ontario Ministry of Labour to make work conditions safer for employees:
Heat combined with physical labour can lead to heat-related illness  Heat Stress
Workers should protect themselves from tick bites and  Lyme Disease
Certain plants can cause serious skin conditions Common hazardous plants

 Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS)

 Seguridad Agricola: Agricultural Safety Tools in English and Spanish 

A fruit picker who stands on the top rung of his ladder, a tractor driver whose bootlace dangles above an engaged power take-off stub, a packer on a conveyor line who forgets to put on a hair net: these may be injuries waiting to happen, but they’re also preventable hazards easily communicated to workers when you have the right tools to get your message across.

“Every year more than 16,000 seasonal agricultural workers, many speaking Spanish, will arrive in Ontario,” says Sandy Miller, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ agriculture community coordinator. “Many face language and cultural barriers, so we’ve devised a suite of tools to help you provide them and other seasonal workers with essential safety orientation and awareness.”

WSPS’s “Seguridad Agricola: Agricultural Safety Tools in English and Spanish” consists of a comprehensive suite of English and Spanish resources that help employers provide Ontario-specific orientation and training. Designed to complement an employer’s health and safety training program, these resources are available in electronic format on a USB data drive. They include:

  • 46 safety topic information handouts, 2-3 pages each
  • 16 hazard-specific tailgate talks packaged in one booklet
  • Health & Safety Awareness for Seasonal Agricultural Workers PowerPoint and presenter manual, featuring two exercises and a final quiz
  • Orientation for Seasonal Workers video depicting best practices for work seasonal workers typically do.

“Since the resources are available in both languages, they’re great for any English- or Spanish-speaking agricultural worker,” says Miller.

How the tools will help you

The tools raise awareness of common hazards by

  • increasing employers, supervisors and crew leads’ own health and safety knowledge
  • providing them with resources in a variety of formats for orientation sessions and health and safety talks
  • providing basic information to workers for recognizing and acting on hazards.

Drawing on community expertise

As part of the project development process, WSPS conducted two focus groups with employers who hire Spanish-speaking seasonal workers and others. “To ensure we were building the right tools, we wanted to understand from them exactly what was needed and ensure that what we were developing was on the right track,” says Miller.

WSPS Network News spoke with two focus group participants, Ryan Tregunno of Tregunno Fruit Farms (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and Jamie Warner of Warner Orchards (Beamsville) about the process and the tools.

Participating was “a benefit to all of us,” says Warner. Warner Orchards employs 25 Spanish-speaking workers every year; Tregunno Fruit Farms, about 20. Both operations also employ local English-speakers. “Having the same material in the two languages will help ensure training and education is consistent in both languages,” says Warner.

“Our workers are very receptive to safety training,” he continues. “They pay attention, they absorb it, and they adhere to it, but language has always been a struggle. Up to this point, we’ve had to draw our training material from multiple sources and it’s never been enough. Having a made-in-Ontario solution suits us better.”

Tregunno agrees. “Instead of pulling a hodge podge of materials together and having to make sure the translation is accurate, we know that what we’re getting from WSPS is exactly what we need. It really speeds up the process for us.”

Warner says the orientation and general training resources will be the most useful to his operation. “They will give everyone a common starting point. Then we’ll provide task- and hazard-specific training as needed.”

Tregunno also plans to put the resources toward English and Spanish-language employee handbooks containing all the necessary standard operating procedures (SOPs) and related safety information.

“Safety is everything these days,” says Tregunno. “We want our workers to go home as safely as they arrived, and with a better understanding of how to protect themselves.”

Get your complimentary copy

Development and distribution of “Seguridad Agricola: Agricultural Safety Tools in English and Spanish”were made possible through funding from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ “Growing Forward 2” program. The first 1,000 copies are available at no cost. Order the USB data drive through WSPS’ online catalogue (www.wsps.ca/farmsafety) or by calling Customer Care, 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).


Health and Safety Program for Members

The Grape Growers of Ontario, in partnership with the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers and the Ontario Apple Growers, have developed a Workplace Safety and Prevention manual. The manual is available for growers' reference on eGrape.

GGO members log into your eGrape account, under Reports for more information.

Step 1: Getting Started on Safety
Need help getting started? View the "How-To Guide for Your Small Business" document.

Step 2: Assess Your Operations
Take the time to fill out the self-assesment guide. A list of identified hazards can be found in the manual under Reports in eGrape.

Step 3: Resources
Visit www.wsps.ca for resources on developing your own Health and Safety Manual or call 1-877-494-9777.

The Workplace Safety Group is a company based in St. Catharines that offers a broad and relevant range of occupational health and safety services, programs, and consulting that provide companies with short and long-term solutions to occupational health and safety challenges, including:

  • Health and Safety Representative
  • Joint Health & Safety Committee Basic Certification Parts 1 & 2
  • Workplace Inspections and Investigating Accidents
  • Health, Safety & the Law
  • Due Diligence
  • Introduction to Workplace Inspections
  • Managing Hazards
  • Investigating Accidents and Incidents

For more information visit Workplace Safety Group


Please consult the Ministry of Labour for specific workplace questions and the most current regulations  http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/

DEADLINE for Health and Safety Awareness training is July 1, 2014.

Ontario Ministry of Labour requires all workplaces covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure that workers and supervisors have completed basic health and safety awareness training by July 1, 2014.  e-learning modules and downloadable training guides and workbooks are available through the Ministry of Labour.  click here


The Ministry of Labour offers a free awareness training program suite. Employers can use their own training or third party training as long as it satisfies the requirements in the regulation.

For quick and easy electronic access, download the free program suite on the ministry's website which includes

In addition to these resources, the ministry offers a free guide to the regulatory requirements and guidance tools available on the ministry's website in English and French. The guidance tools include:

  • The Training Program Assessment for Workers and Supervisors – this helps employers assess whether their occupational health and safety awareness training program meets the minimum requirements of the regulation.
  • The Record Keeping Template – a sample template that employers can use to record occupational health and safety awareness training for their workers and supervisors.
  • The Knowledge Check for Workers and Supervisors – one way employers can verify that previous training for their workers and supervisors meets the minimum requirements of the regulation.

All the training materials and guidance tools to help workplaces comply with the regulation can be found at Ontario.ca/learntoworksafe.


The following resources are provided for your information:


Employment Standards Act, 2000
Health and Safety for Growers
Health and Safety for Wineries



Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are required to post the Act and any explanatory material prepared by the Ministry, including this poster, in the workplace.  The poster must be displayed in English as well as the majority language of the workplace.  Posters may be downloaded at no cost in English, French and 17 other languages from

"Health & Safety at Work – Prevention Starts Here".

The poster summarizes workers’ health and safety rights and responsibilities and the responsibilities of employers and supervisors.

Printed copies are also available through ServiceOntario Publications (English and French versions).


 Slow Moving Vehicle Signs


“Under the Highway Traffic Act, a person operating a farm tractor on a public roadway shall be at least 16 years old. A tractor operator must also follow all traffic rules when on public roads. This includes having proper lights, using hand signals, having a slow moving vehicle sing (SMV) and observing the right-of-way.”

Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for farming operations were developed by Ministry of Labour in cooperation with Farm Safety Association and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.  Full guidelines are available from: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/farming/gl_tractors.php




Outdoor workers are potentially at risk for tick bites and developing Lyme disease, and should protect themselves. Blacklegged ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are found in Ontario.  For more information click here