Sorting health and safety

Man w sheep 25 January 2017

Who knew that health and safety could be so understandable and “doable”? That’s the resounding message from the majority of the 3000 farmers who have attended the 100-plus B+LNZ Farm Safety Management System workshops held across New Zealand since August 2015.

Helping farmers meet their legal requirements around farm safety has been a major focus for B+LNZ over the past 18 months. This activity will continue into 2017 and expand to provide additional support for farmers. Over coming weeks, the B+LNZ e-diary will run a series of stories around farm safety management. The first of these looks at what a B+LNZ Farm Safety Management System Workshop looks like.

Workshop format

Six months in development by ex-military safety and risk management specialists Ben Anderson and Hemi Morete (Exigent Risk Management), the workshops are firmly focused on serving up exactly what farmers want and need to know. 

They run from 9.30am to 3pm and provide plenty of opportunity for open discussion and questions. The workshops are facilitated by Exigent and each one is attended by a WorkSafe NZ rep, who is there as ally, not enemy. 

Why the need?

B+LNZ Extension Manager Mark Harris was closely involved in the workshops moving from the idea stage, into reality. “It was mid 2015 and farmers were increasingly concerned about the Health and Safety at Work Act reforms coming into play in April 2016. As the sector’s industry-good organisation, we recognised there was a need to de-mystify what was going on and help farmers meet their legal obligations.”

Who is attending?

While it is mostly farm owners and managers attending, Mark encourages people to bring along key team members. “Understanding ‘why’ something is being requested is much more effective than just making the request.”

The workshops can handle up to 30 farm businesses in one sitting, depending on the number of people each business brings along.

What you’ll learn

  • What the legal speak and acronyms mean in plain language.
  • How to identify risks, assess the level of risk and work out a plan to limit the risks in a practical and commonsense way.
  • How to put a safety register together.
  • The answers to many common questions – such as, obligations around contractors vs employees, which areas of the farm are workplace and which are residential, and clarifying roles and responsibilities.
  • Many of your obligations can be met by having simple conversations with people coming onto your farm and pointing out relevant risks.

Finally, you head home with a tell-all manual and the templates you need to complete the paperwork at home. There are also additional resources on the B+LNZ website.

Key message: SLAM

Stop. Look. Assess. Manage.

Farmer feedback

Farmers who’ve attended the workshops have similar feedback: The workshops are well structured, yet have an informal feel. They appreciate the open two-way communication and value the fact there is a WorkSafe rep there who is happy to answer questions. 

Importantly, they head home understanding their obligations and feeling confident enough to set up a health and safely plan for their own businesses.

Request a workshop

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