Staying on top of COVID-19 risks: How well is your farm protected?
To call 2020 a year unlike any other would certainly be an understatement. The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of the agriculture world. And through it all farmers in Ontario held their heads high and dug deep - learning on the fly, establishing safe practices as expediently as possible and doing it well. And that is something worth celebrating.
At the same time with the changing seasons, the pandemic continues to evolve and pose new challenges. While we are all hopeful that vaccines will be widely available sooner than later and look forward to the day when the pandemic will be a thing of the past, we need to continue to act responsibly and be prepared for the next phase with Covid-19 very much a part of our lives.
Now is the time, as the demands on your farm may be settling down, to review what you put in place, how it is working and identify ways to further protect your workers, family and business.
Help is Available
The Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program (AWPP), a joint initiative between Workplace Safety & Prevention Services and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), provides farmers access to free services and tools adapted for farms to help you review and address gaps in your program. Consultation and training services with a WSPS consultant tailored to your needs is available, funded entirely through the AWPP.
This is an opportunity to have a fresh pair of expert eyes on your operation to see if there are gaps in your pandemic planning and work with you to come up with viable solutions tailor-made for you. Farmers can arrange for these free services directly with WSPS, to help you with improvements as well as provide awareness training for workers.
Enhanced Program Now Available
Coming up with a game plan to optimize your operation can require an investment to complete implementation. To that end, there is more good news. For operations that are labour intensive, OMAFRA is also offering the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program (EAWPP) which will cover up to 70% of costs associated with a wide range of prevention activities up to $7,500.
These include modifications to ensure physical distancing (barriers), be they related to your operation, transportation or worker housing; personal protective equipment for workers as well as approved safety supplies including the cost of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.
Businesses wishing to apply for support must apply through OMAFRA, separate from the WSPS consultation services.
While the AWPP ends March 31 2021, there's no time like the present to take advantage of all it has to offer. Your resourcefulness and 'take care of it' attitude goes far beyond its impact on keeping your business viable. It means that the food chain in our country is maintained, guaranteeing meals will be on the tables of millions of Canadians nationwide.
For more information on both programs, visit: https://wsps.news/2C2F097 or call Customer Care to arrange for assistance at 1 877 494 WSPS (9777).
This project is funded in part by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.