Usually when we think of safety in the workplace, we imagine an office environment. What about farmers – how can they keep their workplace safe? CLAIRE RENCKEN investigates
You don’t have to be a workplace health and safety expert to develop a health and safety management system. On a farm there is already expertise available: the farmer and the workers. However, farmers might need expert help in some cases.
Good leadership and involving farm workers in developing a health and safety management system will make it a success.
Most farm injuries are preventable. Unwise risk-taking is an underlying problem in the industry and those working on their own are especially vulnerable.
Keeping everyone safe on the farm is good for business. A safer farm means:
• Improved productivity, good morale and happier, healthier workers;
• Better farming practice to help develop a sustainable farming business;
• The ability to carry out weather-critical operations at the right time;
• Less chance of damage to machinery, buildings and products;
• Lower insurance premiums, levies and legal costs;
• Less chance of enforcement action and its costs, such as the cost of dealing with an incident and/or fines; and
• Reduced risk of damage to the reputation of the business.
One particular area of concern in the farming industry is the use of quad bikes. While they have made farming easier, they’re also one of the leading causes of death from injury on farms. It is advisable to take the following precautions:
• Always wear a helmet;
• Take a riding course;
• Identify specific risks, such as overloading;
• Never let children ride adult-sized quad bikes. Studies show that children don’t have the cognitive maturity to make fast decisions in high-risk situations.
The onus is on both employers and employees to create a safe farming environment. Employers should take steps to:
• Provide and keep a safe work environment;
• Include employees when developing health and safety procedures, using an agreed employee involvement process;
• Identify hazards and find practical ways to control significant hazards;
• Provide facilities to make sure employees are healthy and safe;
• Make sure machinery and systems are safe for employees to use;
• Provide and ensure the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), where appropriate;
• Make sure that employees don’t do anything to negatively affect their health or safety;
• Give employees information about workplace hazards;
• Train and supervise employees;
• Record and investigate workplace accidents and illness; and
• Develop procedures for dealing with workplace emergencies.
Farm workers need to make sure that they use the PPE provided, and should refuse to do unsafe work. They also need to notify their employers of potential work hazards, and should, at all times, obey inspector-issued workplace improvement and prohibition notices.
Go for zero with Lockout/Tagout
Did you know that 15 to 20 percent of workplace accidents occur during machine interventions? The good news is that Brady’s Lockout/Tagout technology can save lives during machine maintenance and interventions.
Lockout/Tagout is a planned safety procedure, which involves turning off the energy supply of industrial machinery and equipment while maintenance work or repairs are being carried out. This procedure protects workers from the risks posed by live machinery or electricity.
For more information please visit Brady’s website.