How safe is your farm?
Workplace health and safety (WHS) principles
An employer is required by law to provide every employee with a workplace that is, as far as reasonably practicable, free from risk to the employee’s health and safety. The laws also require that employees take steps to protect their own health and safety by following safety instructions and by using safety equipment. Employees are also obliged to speak up if they feel they are being asked to do something they are not comfortable with.
The workplace health and safety laws have been written to get people to talk with each other about the risks that exist at work. The laws seek to get people to find ways to remove risks before anyone gets hurt.
Every farm is different and, even though there are similarities in work practices and risks, every farm needs its own risk control solution to achieve the best safety outcome.
When an injury (minor or major) has occurred, the injured person must:
- report the injury or work-related illness to their supervisor or employer as soon as possible.
- enter the details in the farm’s Injury Incident Register or have another person complete the Register.
- obtain a Workcover medical certificate from the treating doctor, where the injury requires treatment, and give the certificate to the employer.
All work-related injuries, accidents and incidents need to be investigated as soon as possible and controls put in place to prevent them recurring.
The investigation should thoroughly analyse the accident or incident, determine the cause(s) and identify actions necessary to prevent it happening again.
Complete the Injury and Incident Investigation Report for a guide on how to go about an investigation, and as a record of the investigation.
Induction is a very important part of farm safety and is easy to complete. It is important to set aside the time to properly show the new employee around and clearly demonstrate how to safely use the various equipment on farm.
You can use the Induction Checklist template that covers everything you need to explain on your farm and provide them with a copy so that they can tick off items as they go and ask questions if they need to. Once the induction has been completed, then both of you can sign to say induction was conducted and understood.
- Maintenance should be regular and carried out by a suitably-qualified person, particularly brakes on equipment
- Application of parking brakes prevents run overs, even on relatively flat ground
- Missing or inadequate guarding, particularly power-take-offs on tractors can catch clothes, hair or body parts
- Working alone increases risks if something goes wrong. Let someone know where you’ll be and when you’re due back. Take a mobile or two-way; check in
- Use equipment best suited for the job
- Separate people and moving machinery, including trucks making deliveries and pick-ups. Keep them away from power lines – look up and live
- Get home-made or modified equipment checked by a suitably-qualified person
- Set a good example by demonstrating safety expectations to workers
- Ensure they are properly trained and qualified, including contractors
- Relying on someone’s (or your own) skill and experience can lead to over-confidence and risk-taking
- Having fall protection and using it prevents deaths, brain damage and permanent spinal injuries
- Wear a helmet when riding a quad bike, motorbike or horse
- Working areas of farms and farm machinery are no place for children
- Know your limitations
The ESKi is designed to get you started and is integrated with the resources on this website, to develop processes and/or documents that will help make your farm safer.
Every farm is different and even though there are similarities in work practices and risks, every farm needs its own risk control solutions to achieve the best safety outcomes.The documents and links below will help you with this topic. We’ve included word templates you can download and customise for your farm, including your business name, logo, etc. and PDFs you can print and write on.
Use these questions as a starting point to working out what you need to do to make your farm safer:
- Do you have an induction process for employees, contractors and visitors?
- Do you have a workplace health and safety policy and do you have procedures that are followed for all tasks?
- Do you have a documented risk management process that includes manual handling, chemicals, plant, confined spaces,working at height and electrical?
- Do you have a consultation/communication system with employees?
- Is there an emergency response plan for the farm?
- Do you have a documented process for hazard, accident and incident reporting?
- Are there adequate amenities for people in the workplace?
- Do workers possess licences and/or certificates of competency for the plant they operate and tasks they undertake? (e.g. forklift licence, driver’s licence, chemical user’s certificate)
- Does all plant and equipment used in the workplace comply with regulations (includes guarding, noise, design, maintenance and use)?
- Do you have a process for managing work environment hazards including noise, dust, hot and cold conditions and sun exposure?
- Have you addressed child safety in the workplace?
- Are chemicals managed correctly – records, storage, personal protective equipment, usage, material safety data sheets, signage?
- Have you displayed adequate signage in the workplace? (e.g. visitor directions, traffic movement, specific hazards, use of personal protective equipment, general warnings)
- Does personal protective equipment meet legal requirements – quality, comfort, storage, maintenance, usage?
- Do you have a policy/procedure which enables people working in remote and isolated locations to receive assistance in emergency situations?