EDITORIAL: Move quickly to improve farm safety

The provincial government must adopt the recommendations of the coroner’s jury into the deaths of three mushroom farm workers...

The provincial government must move quickly to adopt the recommendations of the coroner’s jury which looked into the deaths of three mushroom farm workers in Langley in 2008.

The jury has recommended that Worksafe B.C. take a much more activist role in enforcing safety rules on farms, including surprise inspections. It also recommends that farm workers take two-day courses on occupational health and safety, including being made fully aware of the dangers of confined spaces.

These recommendations are clearly stating that farm workplaces be treated in a similar fashion to other workplaces. There must be safety committees and proper training at other workplaces — why should farms somehow be allowed to evade this responsibility?

The inquest also pointed out the additional challenges faced when many farm workers do not understand English. They are limited in where they can find work, which in effect makes them indentured servants to a small group of employers. Employers in this situation have far more control over their lives than any employer should have.

The province can make a difference in the mushroom industry and other farming operations, and in preventing future senseless tragedies. The jury recommendations make that clear.

The ball is now firmly in the government’s court.

– Black Press