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What will an inspector be looking for when they visit my farm?

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An inspector will want to see that you have a system in place to keep everyone on the farm safe. The system doesn’t need to be complex; it just needs to clearly identify existing and potential risks on-farm and what controls you have in place to manage them.

Control risks by eliminating or minimising them.

  • Eliminate the hazard/risk (replace a toxic chemical with a non-toxic one).
  • If the hazard/risk can’t be eliminated minimise it (make sure workers wear ear protection when operating loud machinery).

The inspector may also look at how your system is applied to specific risks on-farm for example: farm vehicles, chemicals or animal handling.

For more information about what a farm inspection looks like, watch Safer Farms ambassador, Richard Loe’s farm get inspected.


Can an inspector come onto my farm uninvited?

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Yes. Under section 168 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 an inspector may at any reasonable time enter any workplace to carry out an inspection under relevant health and safety legislation.

Will an inspector make an appointment to visit my farm or can they just show up?

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An inspector has the right to visit any workplace for the purpose of conducting an inspection at any reasonable time and is not required to make an appointment.

However, if you’re not at home or it’s not a good time you may be able to organise for the inspector to return on another day.

If you would like to make an appointment for an inspector to visit your farm for an assessment please phone 0800 030 040 or e-mail

For more information about what a farm inspection looks like, watch Safer Farms ambassador, Richard Loe’s farm get inspected.

What is my responsibility to contractors on the farm?

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Farmers’ who engage a contractor or subcontractor must take reasonably practicable steps to keep them and their workers safe. This may involve letting the contractors know of other work being carried out or any hazards/risks that are likely to have an impact on their work.

Contractors also need to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure their safety and the safety of any other persons in their workplace including the farmer. This means managing any risks that they create, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Because the farmer and the contractor are both PCBUs they must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other in relation to any overlapping health and safety duties.

Do I need to follow the advice in the best practice guides?

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The purpose of the good practice guidelines is to help reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities by providing practical guidance on how to manage the most common hazards/risks faced on New Zealand farms. The guidelines were developed with farmers to represent good practice on farms.

WorkSafe New Zealand accepts these guidelines as current industry good practice. They will help you comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

The guidelines are there to show you what good practice looks like because common practice isn’t always good practice.

You are best positioned to assess, understand and control the risks on your farm and are not required to follow the guidelines to control risks on your farm. They are there to show you what good practice looks like. However, you need to be able to show that the controls you have in place are at least as effective as the good practice guidelines.

As a worker, what are my legal responsibilities to health and safety on the farm?

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Workers have a responsibility to take reasonable care that their actions don’t put themselves or others at risk. You must also comply with the reasonable instructions of any PCBU.

Workers can refuse to work if they have reasonable grounds to think the work they have to do is likely to cause them serious harm. An example of reasonable grounds could be if a worker was asked to operate a tractor with a known faulty brake system in hill country.

I have had an injury/accident on my farm - Do I have to report it?

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A notifiable event is when any of the following occurs as a result of work:

  • a death

  • notifiable illness or injury

  • a notifiable incident

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 you must notify WorkSafe when certain work-related events occur.

Use our Notifiable Event tool to help you with understanding which events are notifiable, what you need to do and when, and how to notify us.

Isn’t farming just a dangerous occupation?

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The nature of farming means people working on farms need to manage a far wider range of risks than many other occupations. WorkSafe and leading stakeholders in the agriculture sector all agree that deaths and injuries are not an inevitable outcome of working on a farm.

Farms are workplaces - therefore workplace health and safety laws apply. It is up to everyone on the farm to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 by managing the risks and keeping everyone on the farm safe.

Farmers’ who have embraced a health and safety culture are managing these risks already, and place the same priority on health and safety as on any other important farming decision, whether it is the amount of fertiliser, choice of bull or size of tractor. By making health and safety a priority on your farm you can reduce the chances of an accident happening on your property. Before you begin any job on the farm, stop and consider what you need to watch out for, even if it is a task you do regularly.

The cost of accidents is not just the direct loss or injury – there is also a loss of productivity and an impact on the wider rural community.

Will an inspector just be checking that the paperwork relating to my health and safety system is in order?

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A good health and safety system is only valuable if it is practical and used every day to keep all people working on the farm safe.

There are some documents you are required to have like a record of notifiable incidents on the farm and there are some documents you may keep to ensure that you are keeping things up-to-date and that everyone has a consistent message.

Overall the real test of a health and safety system is how well everyone on the farm understands the risks and how to eliminate or manage them.

For more information watch Safer Farms ambassador, Richard Loe’s farm get inspected.

Is the health and safety law changing?

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Yes. Visit for more information.

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