With harvest starting soon it’s important to make sure your farm’s safety is in order to have a safe and productive season.
At ProcessWorx we know Harvest is a crucial time of year for farmers, there is a lot to do in a short period of time so it’s all hands on deck. We appreciate the intensity of the coming months; however, we want to ensure farmers and their staff remain safe during harvest.
Easy steps you can take to improve your farm’s safety this harvest:
1. Ensure you induct new staff:
Having new or inexperienced employees around large, dangerous and expensive farm equipment carries risk. Ensure you are training and inducting new employees before they start working so you are confident they can do the job safely. For example, run employees through the machinery use and areas they will be working in, so they know the hazards and risks associated. Make sure you document the process and record any licenses they have that might be necessary.
2. Update your risk register:
There are risks that come with harvest such as working long hours, machinery and vehicle use. Ensure these hazards are recorded on your risk register. Think about the negative outcomes that could occur from that hazard e.g. vehicle operation could lead to fatigue, loss of control and collision. Assess the likelihood of this happening and what the consequences would be if it was to happen. Then write down and implement control measures that could be taken to eliminate the hazard. Recording this process on a risk register is important to show you making your farm a safer place and working to implement the controls.
3. Hold staff meetings:
Emphasis on communicating with employees about safety is a new aspect of the Work Health and Safety Act that is important to farmers. To help meet your obligations, hold staff meetings before seasonal periods and include safety-related topics such as:
- Recent hazards and incidents,
- Changes to safety such as new equipment or new processes, and
- Provide an opportunity for workers to give feedback about safety.
Staff meetings are an important opportunity to speak to your staff about hazards involved in harvest and how they are being managed. It is also a good idea to go through relevant safe work practices and update your risk register if new hazards arise.
4. Have a plan to manage fatigue:
Fatigue is a major hazard during harvest due to the long hours worked. Fatigue significantly increases with less than 7 hours of sleep before a shift, after 14 hours of being awake or after 13 consecutive shifts. While work health and safety legislation do not set specific limits for fatigue management on farms there is the requirement to eliminate or mitigate the risk as far as reasonably practicable. This can look like; giving workers a day off after 13 shifts, ensure workers have the opportunity for 7 hours sleep before a shift, where practicable limit shifts to 12 hours, alternate high work-load tasks between personnel and monitor personnel for signs of fatigue.
5. Promote a ‘speak up’ culture:
Finally, it is important to encourage staff to ask questions if they aren’t sure or aren’t confident with safe work practices. Follow up any safety questions or hazards with staff afterwards so they can feel comfortable speaking up again in the future.
Taking these steps will help improve the safety of your farm this harvest to keep your people safe.
ProcessWorx has just finished developing a new Farm Work Health & Safety System that together with ProcessWorx’s support will greatly assist farmers to meet their WHS duty of care under the new WHS legislation.