For the eleventh straight year, WorkSafeNB and its partners hosted Progressive Agriculture Day on Thursday, a program that takes students out of the classroom and provides them with hands-on learning about how to stay safe around farm equipment and more.
Over 400 grade 5 students from rural New Brunswick schools took part in the event which, over the years, has expanded to teach a wide range of topics on how to make safety a priority at a farm, at school and at home.
“There’s fire safety, tractor safety, they’re going to be exposed to 4-wheelers and lawn equipment,” explained Lisa Waugh, WorkSafeNB Health and Safety coordinator. “They’re getting a good gamut of activities that they could be exposed to on a daily basis, not necessarily just a farm.”
Progressive Agriculture Day was started in the United States in 1995 and was soon after adopted by WorkSafeNB to address a growing concern in rural areas of the province.
“We were having farming accidents in the region to the youth that were working in the farms during harvest season,” explained Waugh. “So we came across the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and thought ‘hey let’s partner up.'”
Waugh says even though not all of the students will work on a farm, it’s important to make sure everyone understands the dangers that come with heavy machinery and this event is the perfect way to demonstrate that safely.
“It’s very important for them to understand what it’s like to be in the cab of a tractor for example,” she said. “You underestimate the size of these machines and they don’t really understand the importance of their safety when they’re outside and around the machine.”
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WorkSafeNB’s Acting President and CEO Tim Petersen believes this event goes a long way in keeping kids safe and does so in a fun way that is more likely to stick with them after they leave.
“We’re really trying to inspire them to be safety leaders,” he explained. “And if each of those can go out and spread a safety message to three or four people, we reach thousands of people.”