08/02/2016 05:03 EDT | Updated 08/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Alberta Workers Compensation Board Claims Double For Farmers

In 2014, 25 Albertans died in farm-related accidents.

Todd Korol / Reuters
Farmers drive combines harvesting canola while harvesting on Barry Lang's farm near Beiseker, Alberta, September 27, 2013. Record crops are being produced all across the Canadian prairies this season. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: AGRICULTURE BUSINESS)

Workers Compensation Board (WCB) claims by Alberta farm workers have doubled since the government's controversial farm safety bill was enacted last year.

In the first six months of 2016, there were 395 claims from the agricultural sector compared to 158 filed last year, the Calgary Herald reported.

Bill 6, or the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, sparked massive protests after a series of miscommunications aggravated relations between Alberta's NDP government and the province's farmers and ranchers.

Farmers hold signs protesting Bill 6 on Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo: Mike Sturk/Reuters)

The bill, which went into effect on January 1, requires all paid farm employees to be covered by the WCB.

In 2014, 25 Albertans died in farm-related accidents. An average of 18 Albertans die on a farm every year. For every death in the province, an average of 25 people are hospitalized for a farm-related injury, according to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research.

It's too early to say if the increased claims are related to the bill's passage, but the numbers might signal a big change for the province.

Alberta was the last province to implement work safety legislation for the agriculture industry.

“There’s never been any rules applied to occupational health on farms in Alberta. So everybody is starting from zero here," Don Voaklander, director of the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta, told Alberta Farmer Express.

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