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Farm worker, 25, dead in tractor accident

CNESST investigating tragedy


(Canadian OH&S News) — Quebec’s provincial police force and occupational health and safety authority are investigating a workplace fatality that occurred on a farm in Inverness, a small municipality south of the St. Lawrence River, on the afternoon of May 30.

The incident happened at about 6:30 p.m. that day, according to Aurélie Guindon, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec. A 25-year-old employee of the farm was removing rocks from the farm grounds when he had a fatal accident with a tractor.

“The police officers received a call about someone who was found in a field,” said Guindon. “We think that maybe the man could have fallen off the tractor or maybe was hit by the tractor while he was picking up the rocks.”

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), the province’s oh&s department, sent inspectors to the farm to investigate. A stop-work order has been issued on the tractor.

CNESST communications rep Nicole Roy said that the tractor had been moving in reverse at the time of the accident, but could not confirm any further details, “because we actually are in an investigation right now,” she said.

The victim hailed from Sainte-Agathe-de-Lotbinière, a town near Quebec City, Guindon said.

According to statistics from CNESST, Quebec saw 18 agricultural fatalities from 2012 to 2016, five of which occurred last year. In addition, the number of occupational injuries in the province’s farming sector rose from 873 in 2012 to 1,054 last year.

Inverness is located in the region of Centre-du-Québec. In the Centre-du-Québec and Mauricie regions alone, there were 161 agricultural injuries in 2016, and 27 of the injured workers were less than 25 years old, according to CNESST. This was a decrease from 164 in the previous year, but an increase from 124 in 2012.

Inverness had a population of fewer than 825 as of 2011, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

While the causes of this fatality are still yet to be determined, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers many tips on safe tractor operation on its website, including the following:

— Make sure nobody is near the tractor when starting the engine;
— Never start the engine when standing beside the vehicle;
— Never get on or off a tractor when it is moving;
— Drive the tractor only from the driving seat;
— Always wear a seatbelt if the tractor has a roll-over protection structure;
— Never drive the tractor towards someone standing in front of a fixed object; and
— If the wheels are bouncing, the tractor is moving too quickly.