Agriculture is a unique industry with employment demands driven by peak seasonal periods like seeding and harvest. At ProcessWorx we understand that the demands on farmers during these periods are high. Human resources and work, health and safety might not be your first priority when preparing your farm for seeding, but having good processes can save you time, money and hassle in the long run.
Seeding comes with unique HR and safety considerations such as managing fatigue, onboarding seasonal casuals, and chemical handling. ProcessWorx HR and Safety Advisors have outlined our best practice tips for farmers to consider this season.
Managing fatigue during seeding generates a lot of questions amongst ProcessWorx farming clients and can be challenging given there is a lot of work to do in a short window of time. Fatigue affects your clarity, decision making ability and motor skills which ultimately affects productivity. In regard to farms, safety legislation is not specific unless you are a commercial vehicle driver, however, farms have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace therefore, it is important to manage fatigue on your farm.
Some guidelines ProcessWorx recommends farms follow to manage fatigue:
- Ensure maximum work hours are capped at 14 hours per day.
- For any shift over 12.5 hours provide accommodation or travel.
- Ensure break times are followed, at least 30 minutes every 5 hours and an additional 10 minutes agreed break throughout the shift.
- Ensure employees have at least a 7 hour continuous sleep break in the last 24 hours.
- Employees should have at least 1 full day off per fortnight.
- Fatigue can accumulate over time, please take time to rest if you or your employees are feeling fatigued.
ProcessWorx understands that fatigue guidelines can be difficult when farmers and employees just want to get the job done, but health and safety are imperative to running a successful business and it is important to enforce breaks.
Employees covered by the Pastoral Award are entitled to an unpaid 30 minute break for the first 5 hours worked. Under the Pastoral Award, all work performed on the instruction of an employer during the recognised meal break must be paid at 200% of the ordinary hourly rate until the employee has a meal break.
It may seem as though stopping for breaks will reduce productivity, however, in the long run, having employees take breaks reduces fatigue and wages and ensures farmers are meeting their legal duty of care to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Onboarding seasonal workers
It is important farmers have the right processes in place when onboarding seasonal casual employees. This includes HR, ensuring employees have an employment contract, are being paid correctly, understand the expectations of their role and are familiar with the farm’s policies, and safety, ensuring employees can safely operate vehicles, manage fatigue and use farm equipment safely.
Online inductions are a great option to give a comprehensive but succinct overview of the farm’s HR and safety policies. ProcessWorx Advisors recommend, using an induction checklist as a guide to explain; the employee’s role, hours of work and breaks, accommodation and rules, equipment and machinery being used, incident and hazard reporting methods, emergency management procedures and first aid procedures, to the employee.
A smooth and structured induction process will make onboarding seasonal workers easier and help ensure farmers have met their legal duty of care to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Hold a Safety Meeting
ProcessWorx WHS Advisors recommend farms hold safety meetings during peak periods of operation like seeding. At this time there is likely to be more staff and more hazards to be aware of. Our WHS Advisors recommend holding an informal safety meeting with employees at the beginning of seeding covering; the hazards associated with seeding (e.g., fatigue, chemicals, heavy machinery), the control measures in place to minimise the risks, the location of first aid kits and emergency contact numbers, how to spot and report a hazard and safe operation of machinery and equipment. Keep a record of what was discussed at the meeting and who was in attendance.
Chemical usage is an important part of seeding, so it is crucial for farmers, and their employees to handle chemicals safely. ProcessWorx WHS Advisors recommend, developing a register of the chemicals on the farm, storing hazardous chemicals in a designated area away from other hazards, and having accessible Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all the chemicals kept on the farm.
If you would like more information or assistance preparing your Farm for seeding, ProcessWorx has extensive experience working with farms to ensure their HR and Safety is compliant. Farmers can have peace of mind that a team of expert advisors are helping their business, so you can focus on farming.
If you would like more information or want more information about HR or Safety for your farm contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896. Visit our website for more information https://www.processworx.com.au/
Originally written for The Liebe Group Newsletter