Picture this – a familiar scenario from many of our childhoods: As you are about to run out the door to meet your friends, your Mum stops you and makes you take a jacket, even though it’s warm and sunny outside. “Better safe than sorry”, she says with wisdom and love in her eyes. When it comes to farm safety (and actually life in general), we wholeheartedly agree. It makes good sense to have a farm safety plan in place which includes, amongst many other things, appropriate farm insurance cover for your unique work environment.
Planning often falls by the wayside when you are busy with the daily operations of your farm, but in this case, it is a life or death situation. According to Safe Work Australia, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. Farmers and their workers face many potential hazards on a daily basis, including vehicles, equipment, chemicals, noise, dust, extreme weather conditions and working alone in remote locations. Safe Work Australia reports that vehicles account for over 75% of workplace deaths, with tractors and quad bikes at the top of the list. Animals are involved in around 20% of serious injuries which highlights the importance of animal handling.
AgHealth Australia (formerly known as the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety or ACAHS) at The University of Sydney provides useful farm safety resources including a comprehensive template for a Work Health and Safety Plan, which you can adapt for your farm. We will cover three aspects of a farm safety plan to get your mind into gear.
Identification of hazards and risk management
The process begins with identifying hazards and assessing the level of risk associated with each hazard. Risks should be eliminated where possible or minimised if not. Your workers are valuable sources of information as they are at the coalface and may be exposed to hazards you are not aware of. It is important that your workers know that if they feel unsafe in the workplace at any point, they should report it to you for discussion and resolution.
Wearing suitable clothing and safety equipment at all times will assist to minimise the risk of injury. Safe Work Australia identifies tractors rolling over as a major risk. All tractors should be fitted with rollover protection and drivers should be warned not to venture onto steep slopes (no matter how tempting it may be for thrill seekers).
Induction, supervision and training
As with any new job, all your workers should go through an induction program before they start work on your farm. A crucial component of the induction program will be the farm safety plan. It gives you the opportunity to introduce your workers to their new work space, the tools they will be using and best practice for using them.
Farmsafe Australia is the national entity connecting groups that share a common interest in agricultural health and safety. They provide a free online Farmsafe Australia Safety Induction Tool which you can make use of.
New workers should ideally be supervised until you are comfortable that they are capable of doing their tasks correctly and safely on their own. Training should be provided where skills are missing or to refresh and update skills.
Preparation for emergency situations
When an emergency takes place, the first thing to do is call for help. Many farm workers work alone and in remote locations, so it is extremely important that they have emergency contacts saved on their mobile phones or a two-way radio within easy reach. It will need to be a requirement that workers ensure their phone and two-way radio batteries are fully charged at the beginning of the day. If mobile phone reception is unstable in your area, a two-way radio would make much better sense. In fact, having a mobile phone with a two-way radio as backup covers your bases.
Compile an emergency contact list and make sure it is visible in each workspace. First aid kits should be placed strategically in all work areas for easy access. Indicate the people that are trained in First Aid on your emergency contact list and ensure they go for regular refresher training to keep their skills updated.
We want you and your workers to be safe and sound on your farm. Please take the time to compile a farm safety plan and get in touch with us to chat about the right farm insurance cover to protect your farm and your workers. We love it when a (farm safety) plan comes together.
P: 1800 809 132
*Please note all insurance policies have exclusions. Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement or Policy Wording before deciding whether the insurance policy meets your needs.