It’s almost three years to the day that farmers, ranchers and industry supporters convoyed along Alberta highways protesting Bill 6.
READ MORE: Bill 6 convoys rolling to Lethbridge
Despite the backlash, the Alberta government moved forward with the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. As of Dec. 1, farm-specific occupational health and safety regulations will be in effect, the final stage of the legislation.
Producer and regional board member with Alberta Wheat Commission Justin Bell said this final phase has been all about communication.
“If you don’t feel safe doing something then tell me and we’ll either get the proper equipment, or we will figure out a way to get it done. Open communication I guess, with your employees too, that they can come to you and say ‘That’s not safe, we need to do it another way.'”
The rules don’t apply to family members or volunteers and will affect about 4,100 farms and ranches in Alberta who employ non-family workers.
Some of the changes include allowing the use of older equipment with procedures to ensure worker safety, the provision not to have to wear a seatbelt at low speeds and the ability to use a front-end loader to raise a worker if there’s no other option.
“There’s going to be some education that each individual farmer has to do, to know what they need to do, but I think it’s going to go smoothly,” added Bell.
AgSafe Alberta, a non-government health and safety association has been crafted to help operators navigate the newest changes to legislation including policies, courses and on-site visits.