Keeping health and safety training simple and effective

Heading into the busy summer period often means different people working on-farm – whether it’s seasonal staff, visitors or family that have come home for the holidays.

“New workers, even if they have farm experience, will need a good induction around how you manage risk on your farm and what your expectations are around health and safety,” Agricultural Lead for WorkSafe New Zealand, Al McCone says.

“The same goes for visitors and family members who haven’t been on-farm for a while. Things change regularly on farms. You need to make them aware of any changes or new risks. No one should use vehicles or machinery unsupervised either, until they have been fully trained and you are confident they are competent to use them.

“Health and safety shouldn’t be complicated. Keep it simple and practical to meet the needs of your business. People simply need to be prepared, know what the risks are and think about those risks before doing jobs,” Al says.

“Experienced people get hurt too – the most frequent victims of fatal accidents on farms are experienced farmers over the age of 55 – so one of the most important lessons you can provide is leading by example.”

WorkSafe’s Keep Safe Keep Farming toolkit covers the best ways for farmers to identify, manage and communicate health and safety risks to families and workers.

“No one knows the farm, animals and equipment better than the farmer,” Al says. “But if you’d like additional materials to support training and inductions, you’ll find all you need on the WorkSafe website. These range from good practice guidelines around use of tractors, quad bikes and machinery, to fact sheets on dealing with visitors to your farm.”

Statistics for work related farm injuries during summer months show a high number of incidences of being hit by moving objects, trapped in machinery or moving equipment or hitting stationary objects.

Falls from height and being hit by falling objects also loom large, along with a high number of injuries from being hit or bitten by an animal.

“The figures show a lot of vehiclerelated injuries,” Al says. “Through summer, farmers will be making heavy use of large vehicles and machinery, like tractors. On sheep and beef farms, especially, there is considerably more mustering work and it is at this time the majority of quad incidents happen. Over the past 17 years, 80 percent of fatal accidents on farms have involved vehicles or machinery. Over the past 3 years, this has become closer to 90 percent.”

Data shows there are two main causes of fatalities involving tractors. One is where the driver or another person is hit by the vehicle because it was not properly halted and braked. The second is that the tractor rolls and the driver is not restrained.

Using the handbrake properly and always wearing a seatbelt would prevent the majority of tractor-related fatalities.

“Take a few minutes to think before you head out in a vehicle, or to do any task – and encouraging others to do that will make a real difference too,” Al says.

“Think about the route you are taking, the terrain, any risks, like ruts, slopes or ditches – and choose the right vehicle for that job.”

For further information and materials, visit www.worksafe.govt.nz Article supplied by WorkSafe.