Work, health and safety is getting more attention in the agricultural industry lately with the introduction of the Work, Health and Safety Act expected to come into force in March 2022. ProcessWorx understands how concerning this change can be for farmers and business owners, who are accustomed to operating with a level of risk.
To help increase awareness and understanding ProcessWorx Managing Director, Danielle McNamee answers frequently asked safety questions.
Is it true that I could go to jail if someone dies on my farm?
“Although no farmer would intentionally put a worker at risk, under the new legislation there are serious implications for farmers and senior managers if a worker dies or is seriously injured while working on your farm. It is true, in some circumstances that farmers and senior managers can be jailed and fined if they have failed to comply with their health and safety duty and this failure results in the death of a worker.”
What is my work, health and safety (WHS) duty of care?
“Farmers must ensure that the health and safety of workers is not put at risk from work they do on their farm. Specifically, this means:
- Managing risks on the farm,
- Providing and maintaining safe machinery and equipment,
- Having safe systems of work,
- The safe use, handling and storage of machinery, equipment and chemicals,
- Providing safety training and information,
- Monitoring the health of workers, and
- Maintaining safe accommodation.
What is a WHS management system?
“A WHS system is an effective way to help you meet your duty of care. A system includes a policy, risk register, processes and safe work procedures. However, there is no point just having documents, you need to make sure you implement the system and have evidence of how you’ve done so. Just having a safe work procedures is no good unless your workers follow them and you have a record of providing training.”
What is a risk register?
“I believe developing a risk register is a great way to start when you want to address safety of your farm. Basically, it is recording everything that could go wrong or seriously injure a worker, identifying the hazards. We then rate the consequence and likelihood of that hazard occuring to determine a risk rating. Next, we brainstorm what we can put in place to reduce that risk and start implementing them, focusing on the most serious first.”
Is there a limit to the number of hours my employees can work?
“Fatigue management is difficult for farmers, during peak seasons employees work long hours. While legislation doesn’t set specific limits for hours worked on farms, farmers do have a duty of care not put their workers at risk of fatigue. We recommend employees are given a day off after 13 consecutive shifts, shifts are limited to 12 hours where practicable, workers take breaks during their shifts and farmers monitor employees for signs of fatigue.”
What licences do my workers need when working on the Farm?
“If you have an employee operating a forklift, or crane then they need a high-risk work licence. Workers don’t need a licence for operating harvesters, tractors, or motorbikes providing they are not driving on public roads. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you have provided adequate training, instruction and supervision on all machinery the employee uses.”
What do I need to have in place for COVID-19?
“I recommend that you have a COVID-19 safe work procedure, assess the risk on your register and develop a response plan in the event someone is identified as close contact or tests positive.”
ProcessWorx has developed a WHS system specifically for farms to help them meet their duty of care. This system includes a risk register toolkit, policy, processes, safe work procedures and an online induction for new staff. All of this is accessed through our easy to use online software that ProcessWorx maintains and keeps up to date. However, ProcessWorx real point of difference is the care and support provided to coach farmers with implementing the system. ProcessWorx Safety Advisors take the time to train farmers to use the system and roll it out to their employees. This farm WHS package can be combined with ProcessWorx’ farm HR package so that everything you need is in one place and you can call our expert advisors any time you need support.
For HR and Safety advice, see Danielle McNamee’s Monthly column in Farm Weekly magazine.
This article was originally written for the Farm Weekly Farm Safety Feature 2022
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