Managing health and safety in farm work is not only a good way to avoid incidents but it also contributes to higher income and profit.
There are some simple steps primary producers can take to ensure a safe workplace for themselves and their employees.
According to statistics from Safe Work Australia, over the eight years from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 356 people died while working on a farm that’s 17 percent of all worker fatalities.
Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) advisory panel chair Gordon Gregory says on-farm safety risks can easily be identified and fixed by following a few basic steps.
They include consulting with workers, identifying hazards, assessing risks, controlling risks, keeping a record of actions taken, and monitoring and reviewing those actions.
“Involving and consulting workers is key and should include regular meetings where safety issues are discussed,” Mr Gregory said.
“It’s always important to be on the lookout for on-farm hazards, but that’s especially true when familiar systems change, such as with the arrival of new machinery and equipment.
“Property owners, managers and workers all have a responsibility to identify those jobs and situations that may cause injury or illness, not only to people doing the work, but also to bystanders and visitors.”
Farm workers should report to their manager anything that could be considered hazardous to health and safety.
The best thing to do is to eliminate the identified hazard, for instance by swapping to a piece of equipment or infrastructure that can do the same job but is less risky.
On-farm risks can also be reduced by providing workers with safe operating procedures or rules, organising work in such a way that reduces risk, giving safety induction and training to workers, and closely supervising unskilled workers.
Personal protective equipment must be provided and used where workers cannot be protected from a hazard by a control measure. This includes providing helmets to protect riders of motorbikes and quads.
Records should also be kept of all activity in an occupational health and safety program.
More information about these steps can be found in the Managing Grain Farm Safety guide, published by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety.