Useful tips and tools

Write down your actions in the farm diary

Don’t burden yourself with unnecessary paperwork

If most of your health and safety discussions are informal, it isn’t necessary to formally record them. you could, however, jot a few notes in your diary about what was discussed at a particular time and record any actions to be taken, and who is responsible. you might also note any discussions you have with people who are doing short-term work on farm, such as pickers, packhouse workers, spray contractors, fertiliser truck drivers, etc.

Planning to manage risk should not concentrate solely on injury. You must plan for the impact work can have on workers’ health, and the impact workers’ health can have on their work.

Why do any paperwork?

Paperwork can support good health and safety practice as a means of supporting memory, by helping to plan future work, and as a simple, easy-to-read reference sheet on actions you and others will take.

Is this enough?

Yes. There is no legal requirement to keep records about these types of conversations, nor is there any compulsion to have every visitor sign some paper each time they come on farm. Obviously, you need to know when people are on your farm. Your obligation is to understand the risks both parties bring to the farm, to work out how these are going to be managed, and to agree on who is managing what, and how. This doesn’t need to involve loads of paperwork.

tools and tips

What are farm rules?

Farm rules are very basic rules that you set for yourself and your workers about the way you want things to happen on your farm and the behaviours you all expect of each other.

Why farm rules are important

Farm rules create boundaries that you want people to work within, they set your expectations as a farm owner/manager and make it clear to people on your farm what you will or will not tolerate.

What should they look like?

How they look is up to you. Record the rules in short and simple sentences. You might have rules for different parts of the farm – shed rules, vehicle rules, general behaviour rules, or you might have one set for everything.

Here are some examples
  • Watch out for each other – speak up if you think something is dangerous.
  • No untrained people to drive farm vehicles.
  • Farm speed limit is 30 kph – no exceptions.
  • No vehicles in ‘no-go’ zones – see red areas on farm map.
  • always wear helmets on two wheelers and quad bikes.
  • PTO shafts must always be guarded.
  • Wear helmets, ear muffs and chaps when using a chain saw.
  • Handlers using chemicals must be certified or supervised and must always wear protective equipment.

Consider what you will do if workers don’t follow the rules – make sure people are aware of the consequences. you should include in employment contracts a statement that says any breach of health and safety rules will be treated as serious misconduct.

How should I make and communicate farm rules?

Get everyone involved in making the farm rules. Make sure everyone on farm knows and understands the rules and the consequences of breaching them.

Make it clear that these are minimum standards. Discuss them throughout the year.

  • Give everyone a copy – if people have language difficulties, talk it through with them.
  • Talk to your lawyer about incorporating a reference to them in existing employment contracts.
  • Obey them – if the boss doesn’t do it, why would a worker take them seriously?
  • Enforce them!

What is a farm map?

A farm map can be an aerial photograph, a land title map, or even a hand-drawn sketch, showing the boundaries of your farm. If you
have an agribase or FarmIQ account you will already have an electronic version.

If you are using a farm map to provide information for other people, try to use one that shows:

  1. Paddock boundaries.
  2. Main tracks/yards around the farm.
  3. The location and size of buildings on farm.

How is a farm hazard map different?

To take a farm map and turn it into a farm hazard map, simply draw the location of any hazards on it. a hazard is a potential source of harm that could have an adverse effect on people.

Hazards you could include:
  1. Bin stacks.
  2. Chemical or fuel stores.
  3. No-go zones: steep banks, drop-offs, gullies or cliffs.
  4. Weather or season-specific places that shouldn’t be accessed at certain times, or in particular circumstances.
  5. Suspended wires or power cables.

Make copies of the map so you can discuss the hazards and the risks they pose with workers or contractors.

Why it is important

The farm map is an easy way of communicating the layout of your farm to people and for pointing out where hazards are. This helps you communicate with others where physical risk is located and aids the discussion about how it can be managed.

How should I use it?

Make copies of your farm hazard map once you’ve completed it and put a copy on the wall of the work room or implement shed. Keep some copies in your office/diary and give it to whoever you think needs it – whether it’s a new worker, or a contractor. An electronic copy can be easily emailed.

You can give people copies of it, draw and write instructions on it and generally use it to make things very clear where people can go, the hazards they might face and what you want them to do. Some farmers put the farm rules or parts of the emergency plan on the back, so contractors and visitors have no excuse! Update it with information that comes to hand, such as a recently sprayed paddock, or where you have put the new offal pit.

What is an emergency plan?

An emergency plan is a document that sets out what to do in an emergency and contains key farm information that will help people in an emergency.

Why it is important

A plan makes sure all the information you need is in one place and everyone can access it. The plan means the thinking is done in advance and people can quickly respond.

How do I create an emergency plan?

Consider events that would constitute an emergency – fire, flood, serious injury or injury in remote location, or chemical spill etc. The emergency plan is created so that if the worst does happen, you and other people on farm are prepared.

For each emergency scenario, identify the action that can be taken, the equipment needed, where the equipment is stored, which emergency services to call and the information to provide them etc. This information should be recorded in the emergency plan.

How do I use it?

The emergency plan is something that all new workers should be made aware of. The plan should be given to, and discussed periodically with, all the people on farm, including children. Store a copy of it in a place where everyone can find it.

Key information to record in your emergency plan

  • List contacts for family and employees, and where people can meet after a disaster to assess the situation and work out a response. also list who can help in an emergency.
  • If you don’t have mobile coverage, list where landline phones can be found.
  • List emergency contacts.
  • Describe the farm’s location and directions from the nearest major intersection. This means that someone unfamiliar with the area can direct emergency personnel to the farm and knows where to meet them.
  • Provide a diagram of the farm that includes the location of chemicals, fuels, equipment, and overhead and buried
    utilities etc. Include possible helicopter landing sites and GPS co-ordinates.
  • List essential equipment that is needed for the farm to have power if there is a power outage or natural disaster. Educate all family members and employees on how to use the emergency equipment.
  • Describe where important farm and personal documents are kept.
  • If animals or animal products are entering the food chain, identify a way of marking animals or products that need to be withheld. Work out a disposal method if there is a disaster.

What is a training register?

A training register lists the training that you and your staff have had that is relevant to the job. You can also list the skills your workers have and your observation of how they do their job. Note that a training register is a requirement of NZGAP and GLOBALG.A.P.

Why it is important

People are injured or become ill doing tasks when they do not fully understand the risks. Training on how to do a job safely helps avoid injuries and ill-health. As the farm owner or manager, you are expected to understand the knowledge and experience of staff before deciding if the person is capable of doing a job. If they are not up to a standard you are comfortable with, you need to provide or arrange supervision or training to get them there. This register is a record of how well people are prepared for tasks.

Key information to record

The training register should list the person’s name, the equipment or task they have been trained on, the training date, the training provider, and the person’s signature to confirm that they had the training. If certificates have an expiry date, record it in the register so you can check to see if people are up-to-date.

Does informal training count and how do I know what new employees can do?

People often get experience and training by doing things on the job, rather than by completing formal training courses. This type of training is perfectly ok, but the person does not get a formal certificate. This makes it hard for employers to work out what experience new employees have. Whether they have a certificate or not, you should observe the new employees doing tasks with equipment so you can assess their ability. Think about what would demonstrate they are, or are not, safe. Get them to do some typical tasks to see if they do them correctly. For example, did they put the PTO shaft cover on, did they practise ‘active’ riding, did they lift the calf properly? You should make a note of these observations and of your assessment of the employees’ ability to undertake the tasks.

What does it look like?

The training register could be a record at the back of your farm diary of all the formal or informal training, but is more likely to be a simple list for each person on the farm. We have provided an example of a training register that you could use, or you can set up a form on your computer, or in a notebook. Alternatively, you could keep notes of the experience and training your staff receive in your diary.

What is a maintenance record?

A maintenance record contains the details of the maintenance of your farm vehicles, equipment and machinery. Note that a maintenance register is a requirement of NZGAP and GLOBALG.A.P.

Why it is important

All machinery, vehicles and equipment need maintenance so they remain safe for use. This can be regular and scheduled maintenance to clean the equipment, replace oil, clean or replace filters, grease parts etc, or unscheduled maintenance to fix or replace parts that have broken.

A register helps you keep track.

Key information to record

If your work is carried out by an independent mechanic or service technician, then the invoices can be part of the record. If you do your own maintenance, then more details should be kept about what work was done, or what parts were replaced etc.

How should I record that I'm doing it?

Some farms with a lot of equipment might want to keep very formal registers of maintenance undertaken. However, for a lot of smaller farms, notes in a separate section of your diary will work as a maintenance record. This can be a summary page at the front of the diary, with more detailed notes of the work done on the actual date in the diary.

What else can I do?

Many growers have lists of daily checks to be carried out – such as, bird’s nests in tractors, tyre pressures and so on. These lists encourage good practice.

What is a contractor orientation checklist?

This checklist includes things that should be discussed with contractors before they start working on your farm. The discussion should result in both parties understand

ing the risk each other brings to the workplace and agreement on how those risks will be managed.

It is also useful to give the contractor a copy of the farm rules, and a farm hazard map with the hazards specific to their work clearly noted on the map.

Why it is important

Farms are workplaces and subject to New Zealand’s workplace legislation. As a farm operator, you will need to do what is reasonably practicable to make sure that contractors who are doing work on farm are safe from work-related risks.

People who only occasionally work on your farm will not know your farm. Talking to those people about the potential risks and the harm they may

face is an important step. This makes sure they are kept as safe as possible while they are working on farm.

The checklist is a reminder to cover all the necessary information to make sure people are properly informed of the risks on farm.

Key information to record

You don’t have to record anything. If you do want to record what you said when you orientate contractors on your farm, make a note in your diary. If the person conducting the farm orientation regularly changes, you can have a separate notebook that all workers can access to record that the orientation occurred. Put the checklist at the front of this notebook so nothing is missed.

Some growers have a separate form where they sign people in and out, but it is more useful to record what you have told people than to have a signature.