Written by Safer Farms’ General Manager, Tony Watson
Learning from what goes right
When things go right, we hardly give it a second thought, it’s like being in auto-mode. This applies everywhere including on-farm, at home and even on the roads. Fortunately, things do go right most of the time, but it’s not so good when things go wrong.
Traditional health and safety has got a bad rap, maybe partly because it focuses on what could go wrong and it seems to emphasise things like folders and signs. Farmers, like many other people in business realise that folders and signs alone don’t make a workplace safer.
Often people are more concerned about a visit from WorkSafe than actually making sure they’ve thought about the best ways to actually work and are doing what they can to make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day.
So what is a safer farm?
Every business becomes a safer place when people go about their daily work and understand which parts of the job require a bit more attention to make sure the job goes right. Think of any job on farm and you’ll find some parts need a bit more focus. An example could be hosing the yard at the end of milking, most of this can be done on auto, but you need to make sure you really focus on hosing when the water could get close to electronics or electricity. Even when you’re making a cuppa, most of this can be done on auto, but it makes sense to focus your attention when you’re pouring the boiling water!
Farms are safer when people know which jobs (or parts of jobs) need their undivided attention. One way to achieve this is through discussing it as a team and thinking about which parts of the job a new person or someone unfamiliar with your farm might need to be aware of.
Experience helps and it’s always great to share ideas and agree on the best ways to do the tricky parts of the job. Communication between everyone is key.
ACC information also shows that livestock and lifting or tripping over things cause the most injuries on farm. Meanwhile, the most fatalities on farm are caused while working on, or near, vehicles and machinery.
To make your farm safer, it’s good to focus your attention and make the right decisions especially when you’re about to do those trickier parts of the job.
It’s coming up to that time of the year when we see more people on farm over Christmas and throughout summer. As well as contractors, there can be friends and family on farm and the kids wanting to muck in over the holidays.
To be sure that everyone is going to be safe, we need to be absolutely positive that people who are unfamiliar with the farm and property have been explicitly told and understand where it’s okay for them to go and where it’s not.
When a child is injured or dies on farm, it’s usually because an adult didn’t reinforce the ‘no go’ areas or didn’t keep an eye on them.
Let’s learn from that and think about what we need to do to make sure things do go right, and our people have a good experience and get home safe, every time.