What is the Occupational Health and Safety Act?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act states the legislative requirements for health and safety of all workplaces in Nova Scotia. The current Act came into effect in 1996. All farmers are responsible for understanding their responsibilities under the Act.

Am I, as the owner, the only person responsible for health and safety on my farm?

No. All parties at a workplace are responsible for health and safety. This is known as the internal responsibility system. The employer, owner, manager, employees and suppliers are all responsible for health and safety. However, the level of responsibility is equivalent to the authority of the individual. An employer has the greatest ability to enforce changes at a workplace, but it is the responsibility of the employee to ensure they comply with those changes.

How does the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply to my farm?

All farms are subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. However, there are certain requirements based on the number of employees; 5-19 require a safety representative and policy, 20 or more requires an occupational health and safety committee and program. To find out more about the Act view the Farmer’s Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

How do the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations apply to my farm?

The Workplace Health and Safety Regulations apply to all farms, regardless of employee number. Which regulations apply to your farm will depend on your operation. It is the responsibility of the employer to determine how the regulations apply to their farm.

My employee number differs throughout the year. How does that affect my requirements?

If you have more than 20 employees hired for a regular period of time of 4 weeks or more you must meet the requirement of more than 20 employees. This means that you are required to have a written policy, a health and safety program and a joint occupational health and safety committee. For more information please see A Farmer’s Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Does everyone on my farm need to have WHMIS training?

Only those working with or in proximity to a controlled product require WHMIS training. The employer is responsible for providing training for these individuals. For more information view the WHMIS Fact Sheet.

Does everyone on my farm need to be trained in First-Aid?

No, not everyone on your farm is required to be trained in first aid. The type of first aid training and number of people requiring training depends on employee numbers. When determining employee number you should consider all employees (e.g. full-time, casual, seasonal) at a particular worksite. See the First Aid Fact Sheet for more information.

Are there specific things I must have posted for my employees to see?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act has a requirement for certain information to be posted. This includes:

The Occupational Health and Safety Act
The Farm’s Health and Safety Policy
Current telephone number of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education
Any order, compliance notice, notice of appeal, deviation or decision issued by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education
Current names of the joint occupational health and safety committee members or representative, if any, and means of contacting them
Where there is a committee, minutes of the most recent meeting

Some additional posting requirements that may apply to your farm include:

Location of first aid supplies
Emergency information, including civic address and emergency phone numbers
Names of gases stored and signs prohibiting smoking in any storage areas for compressed gas cylinders
Readable statement of hoist’s rated load in the operator’s view
Maximum number of revolutions per minute of an abrasive wheel and grinder
A “Danger – High Voltage” sign where electrical components are housed
Sign identifying confined spaces and any applicable permits.

I have on-farm food safety programs that have some similar requirements. Is that sufficient?

No, but there may be some cross-over items between your on-farm food safety program and health and safety program. Having already implemented a program on farm, implementing a health and safety plan will seem much simpler. Identify any cross-over items and build from there.

What is the difference between written work procedures and safe work practices?

A written work procedure (WWP) is a step by step process for performing a job or task the same way each time. All written work procedures must include provisions for protecting health and safety of the person performing the task.

A safe work practice (SWP) is a set of guidelines that will assist in performing a job or task in a safe and healthy manner.

I already have standard operating procedures developed for other programs. Can I use those?

Yes, you can definitely use the SOPs previously developed. However, there must be a health and safety component to those SOPs. This can be done by either adding a health and safety section or developing a safe work practice to go along with the SOP.

Can the Department of Labour and Advanced Education show up without notice?

Yes. The Department of Labour and Advanced Education has the right to show up without notice. They are able to show up at any time during the day or night that is reasonable for the operation being inspected.

What do I do during a Department of Labour inspection?

You have the right to accompany them during the inspection. See the Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s information When an officer shows up.

The Officer has written warnings and orders. Now what?

Warnings must be addressed as soon as possible, but do not require further follow-up from the farmer.

An order must be remedied within the time specified by the Officer. Once you comply with the order you must send a written compliance notice. If you are unable to comply to the order within the specified time you must ask for an extension from the Officer. If you do not feel the order was warranted you can appeal the order, following the proper procedure.

I had an accident on my farm. What should I do?

The accident scene should not be disturbed, except for the purpose of protecting the health and safety of the people or property in the surrounding area. An internal investigation should be performed, following the farm’s accident/incident investigation protocol. Depending on the severity of the accident, a written notice must be sent to Labour informing them of the accident.

A fire or accident causing bodily injury to an employee – within 7 days of its occurrence.
An accidental explosion – within 24 hours of its occurrence.
A fatality or injury likely to prove fatal – within 24 hours of its occurrence.

I lease my land to a neighbouring farm, what are my responsibilities under the Act?

You must ensure the land or premise is maintained in a manner that ensures the health and safety of those at the workplace and is in compliance with the Act. It is the responsibility of the owner to inform the leasee about any information necessary to identify, eliminate or control the hazards (e.g. underground power lines, old wells). The work that occurs on the leased premises is ultimately controlled by the employer performing the work.

The responsibilities of the leaser and leasee should be clearly laid out in the lease agreement.

What items are required to be in a tractor or vehicle?

Any powered mobile equipment with an internal combustion engine must be equipped with adequate fire protection equipment.

Where a person is operating powered mobile equipment off the main work site, it should be equipped with a Number 1 First Aid kit.

What are the training requirements for someone working alone?

Anyone working alone should have emergency first aid training and be familiar with the farm’s “Working Alone Policy”. It is important that people working alone have a form of communication with another person (e.g. cell phone, 2-way radio). Anyone operating equipment should have training for performing the specific tasks required of them. No one should operate equipment unless they are deemed competent by an owner or supervisor.