Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.
WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many farmers will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for farm safety.
Farmers should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. “When selecting a new contractor or buying stock, farmers do their homework,” says Mr McCone. “They shop around, look online, ask other farmers and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources.
“Farmers should make sure that they’re not simply going to get a folder or piles of forms someone else has done for them. That won’t make their farm any safer. What they actually need is a way of building a health and safety culture into farm activities and constructing a really effective culture of involving everyone.”
There’s no substitute for the unique knowledge the farmer, family and workers have of the land, its terrain, its facilities and day-to-day operation, says Mr McCone. “What’s most important is everyone on farm thinking about the risks and managing them so everyone stays healthy and safe. When everyone is involved there is a positive impact on other parts of the business.”
Mr McCone says while there are good health and safety consultants out there, they are not all of the same quality and effectiveness. “Farmers need to make sure they are working with a competent and qualified professional safety advisor – that may not be the first health and safety advisor they get talking to at the local field day.”
To help farmers buy the right kind of support, the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ), the national umbrella organisation representing all workplace health and safety professions, has developed a simple checklist.
Ask them these five quick questions before making a decision:
• Which professional association do you belong to – can you confirm this?
• What qualifications and/or certification do you have?
• What relevant skills and experience do you have for this job?
• Can you give me examples of similar work you have done recently?
• Are you happy for us to contact your clients about your work for them?
For free health and safety resources for your farm, including suggested templates and a comprehensive guide to developing a safety management system, go to www. saferfarms.org.nz and www.hasanz.org.nz. You can also call 0800 030 040 for hard copies of this information.