With seeding about to commence, let’s have a quick look at safety on your farm. Farm owners and managers are always balancing their time and resources across many different disciplines, including business administration, accounting, agronomy, mechanics, employees, markets, suppliers, safety and more. For this reason, knowing where to focus their efforts can be very important. Of course, the list of hazards we could focus on is always growing, and farmers should seek assistance from safety consultants specific to their needs, but this article will provide some insights into two hazards that are particularly relevant for seeding: moving parts of machinery and hazardous chemicals.

Machinery and moving parts are a common source of injury on farms resulting in lacerations and crushed fingers. Before seeding is a good time to inspect the machinery that will be used to identify any potential moving parts or pinch points. Farms should ensure that guarding is in place to prevent personnel from accessing areas where there are moving parts that could cause injury. This may include reviewing and replacing existing guarding that has been damaged or removed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, including any pre-start checks that staff need to complete before each use. A simple way to assist this is to copy the pre-start checklist from the machine’s manual, laminate it and attach it to the machine for operators to use as a guide. Safe machinery operation should be supported by staff training so that staff know the correct and safe way to use machinery. Training can include demonstrating safe use of the machinery and identifying hazards and control measures, followed by a supervision period to ensure staff can operate machinery safely and correctly. It is a good idea to keep a record of training sessions as best practice and proof of compliance. This can be recorded in a management diary or an induction checklist. Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing risks of plant in the workplace is a good resource for further information about machinery and guarding, and can be found on their website.

Chemicals are an important part of broadacre farming. Before seeding is a perfect time to review how hazardous chemicals are handled on the farm. Farms should develop a hazardous chemical process specific to their farm with the assistance of safety specialists. However, some basic steps farms can take to begin with include:

  1. Developing a register of the farm’s chemicals.
  2. Ensuring that farms have a safety data sheet (SDS) for each hazardous chemical. Farms need to have safety data sheets (dated within five years) available to their staff on the farm for each hazardous chemical. Chemical suppliers have a responsibility to make these available to farms.
  3. Conducting risk assessments for each chemical that is classified as hazardous. Section 2 of the SDS will specify if a chemical is hazardous or not. Safety specialists can assist farms with hazardous chemical risk assessments.

Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is a good resource for further information about the management of hazardous chemicals and can be found on their website.

It is important to remember that safety has no “finish line”, it is a continual process of identifying hazards, assessing risk, implementing control measures to eliminate or reduce the risk, and evaluating these control measures. The best starting point is to implement a safe system of work that is specific to your farm’s needs. Safety consultants specialising in agriculture can assist farms with this.

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.

For more information about Farm Safety contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au 

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Written by ProcessWorx Safety Consultant Tom Sterle

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