Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : December 2013 Contents HOW ARE YOUR ONFARM
HEALTH & SAFETY POLICIES AND SYSTEMS?
Is it in the "round-to-it" pile in your farm office, or
have you given it some thought and effort, but just
don't know where to start?
Call our OnFarmSafety New Zealand team -- we
are assisting farmers with their health and safety
procedures every day and we know how it can work!
Phone 0508 ONFARM
mentation and saw
there were opportu-
nities to help others
do the same.
and safety obliga-
tions under recently-
tion has become
a logistical farm
and with new laws and
regulations pending it's not going to get
any easier,'' she said.
The OnFarmSafety NZ team starts
by ''auditing'' a farm business to get an
overall view of the farm including staff,
farm size and infrastructure. A health
and safety policy is then created with the
farmer, establishing best practice for that
farm business, assisting the farm team
to write the risk management rules to
manage the most significant hazards.
OnFarmSafety NZ consultants subse-
quently have ''nagging rights'' with the
farmer to ensure recommendations are
being followed at monthly visits.
''Most farmers are working to best
practice as they see it, but many use
verbal health and safety policies and there
are risks in this,'' Bronwyn said.
''One, there is no consistency when
explaining a policy to different staff
members -- there are too many variables,
including who the farmer is talking to,
how busy they are, the seasonal challeng-
es, what kind of mood they are in.
''Two, there is an absolute need for
documented policy and procedure. In
the event of an incident or accident on
the property, legislation will come down
hard on those businesses without policy
in writing. There is very little room for
verbal policies in these cases,'' Bronwyn
said. This also needed to be reflected in
''Most employment contracts only
have a one or two liner about employees
abiding by the business' health and safety
policy,'' Bronwyn said. ''But what exactly
is the employee abiding by?''
Bronwyn said her hope for the industry
and OnFarmSafety NZ was to reduce the
number of accidents and fatalities.
''Health and safety needs to become
entrenched in the farming culture, includ-
ing removing the 'she'll be right' attitude
to risk management,'' she said.
''It is very apparent as an industry that
it is time to get our acts together and get
good compliant health and safety process-
es and documentation in place.''
She cautioned boards and directors of
larger farm businesses against pushing a
generic policy on sharemilkers and trying
to enforce health and safety as a ''tick the
box'' business procedure only.
''The policy needs to be a collectively
thought-through system that comes from
the farm business management structure
and is understood by everyone in the
farm team -- a tri-partisan approach is
needed,'' Bronwyn said.
''It has to be able to be implemented
on farm, be interpreted and understood
by all owners and staff. The policy needs
to show proactive risk management in the
farm workplace all day every day.''
42 The Dairyman December 2013
THE perception that farmers blatantly
flout safety rules and put workers'
lives at risk is simply not true, accord-
ing to OnFarmSafety New Zealand
managing director Bronwyn Muir.
As part of her work, Bronwyn gets an
in-depth look at farmers' health and safety
policies and processes and said if they are
going wrong anywhere, it is usually with
''Of course, health and safety in New
Zealand farm workplaces is not perfect,
and yes we can do a lot better, but we
don't completely disregard the Health and
Safety in Employment Act 1992 as some
media/public perception may make out,''
''Safety is really high up on most farm
business owner's agenda. Farmers genu-
inely want all their staff to come home
safely every night. These people are more
than just 9-5 workers -- they are people
who live on the farm and often bring
families with them. The last thing farmers
want to do is have to tell a worker's family
that something has happened.''
OnFarmSafety NZ advises farmers on
all aspects of health and safety on farm,
including but not limited to legislative
and employment requirements, effec-
tive hazard management processes,
personal protective equipment, machinery
management, emergency plans, farm
signs, clothing and first aid.
The idea for OnFarmSafety NZ
''percolated'' for a few years before being
officially launched on April 1 this year.
Bronwyn had already helped several
farmers get their health and safety policies
''out of their head'' and into correct docu-
No more she ll be right culture
Farm visits: FarmSafety NZ consultants have
''nagging rights'' with the farmer.
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