Helping keep farmers safe through a winning relationship

This article was published in October 2021 and may be outdated.

Farm machinery tangled with guy wire from a hydro pole.

Incidences such as these have been rising.

Enlarge image: Farm machinery tangled with guy wire from a hydro pole.

Manitoba Hydro’s Cyril Patterson noticed an alarming trend over the last three years.

Incidents where individuals using farm implements had come into contact with electrical infrastructure had gone up by 10 to 15 per cent.

Cyril reached out to the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) — an organization representing farmers in Manitoba.

“I really respect the willingness of KAP to collaborate with us to help reduce the number of contacts occurring between farm equipment and electrical infrastructure,” said Hydro’s Damage Prevention Coordinator, Rob Morrison.

“The people that came together from both companies all jumped right in,” said Cyril. “It has been very positive.”

Building a better understanding

To gain more understanding of what farmers need to be safe, Manitoba Hydro surveyed farmers.

“Any time you receive a response rate exceeding 10 per cent, it’s remarkable,” said Cyril. “The response rate for this survey was 20 to 30 per cent, so it’s obvious it’s near and dear to the farmers’ hearts.”

Growing relationships and learning

Both companies feel optimistic about the shift in awareness as well as some ground-breaking work being developed with two post-secondary institutions.

“We’re hoping to get the Manitoba Hydro farm safety curriculum embedded into the programs at Assiniboine Community College and the University of Manitoba,” said Cyril.

Going in the right direction

“We are also championing a pilot project where GPS equipment used by farmers will have the coordinates of all our poles loaded into the GPS system of the equipment,” said Cyril, adding that if the pilot goes well, his goal is to keep our proprietary data free for use with all manufacturers and farmers.

Recognizing the importance of safety

Manitoba Hydro received the Manitoba Farm Safety Award from KAP on September 29 at a virtual award celebration recognizing safety contributions and efforts by industry.

“I am deeply honoured by KAP’s recognition of Hydro’s commitment to farm safety,” said Cyril.