Comment: The long summer holidays are just around the corner, says Jacqui Owen, so now's the time to consider the health and safety of any young (and not so young) visitors to your farm.
With the coming summer months, there is often an influx of visitors to the farm.
These visitors are often unused to the day-to-day hazards that present to employees, contractors and visitors alike. It seems like an opportune time to revisit your procedures to ensure your grandchildren, nieces and nephews or other visitors have a safe and fun holiday season.
As a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking), you are responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone who enters the workplace – even visitors to the farm.
Not all areas of the farm are captured under WorkSafe rules, but you do have a duty to ensure that any work areas on the farm are safe and don't pose a risk to the health and safety of any person.
In particular, farm buildings and immediate surrounding areas must be safe.
You should have a check-off any entrances, exits and buildings to ensure there are no risks, or that, if there are, you take steps to mitigate the chance of these causing harm.
You are not responsible for the safety of people crossing a farm in a non-work area or away from farm buildings. But be careful that a paddock was not a work area previously and that there is a risk there still from that previous work.
An example is where a farmer has been fencing a paddock and the post rammer is still in the paddock and could cause harm if the monkey fell somehow.
Anyone who is a visitor must take reasonable care that their actions (or lack of action) do not knowingly put themselves or others at risk. They must listen to and comply with any reasonable instructions you give them.
WorkSafe provides an excellent set of tips for keeping children and young people safe on farm. These same tips apply to anyone who is inexperienced and new to the farm.
Here are my three top tips:
• Have a selection of hi-vis vests available that all visitors must wear (young or old), if they are outside the section.
• Ensure that there is a selection of different-sized helmets for motorbikes and insist on a no-helmet, no-ride policy.
• Have clear no-go areas on the farm that you actively show any visitors (effluent pond paddock, effluent sump area, tractor, dairy where machines and hot water are located.)
It's important to remember that the WorkSafe laws are not designed to take away the enjoyment of farming or the ability to share this enjoyment with others. Being sensible and safe will usually be enough.
WorkSafe tips for child safety on farms
• Walk around the farm with children and identify hazards together.
• Adult supervision is vital – for young children it must be close and active.
• Lead by example, for example always wear an approved helmet on a quad bike.
• Think about having safety fences around play areas, animal pens, work areas and water spots.
• Keep doors shut or locked so children can't get in where they shouldn't.
• Use safety guards on all machinery.
• Store dangerous agri-chemicals safely out of children's reach.
• Remove keys from doors and vehicles. Never leave vehicles unattended with the motor running.
• Make sure it is safe to reverse farm vehicles. Walk around the vehicle and check that children are a safe distance away before starting the engine.
• Children should not ride on tractors, quad bikes or on the back of utes.
• Road safety on private and public roads is vital. Have children in car seats and seat belts when in cars, utes and trucks.
• Make sure children wear high-visibility clothing when out and about on farm.
• Teach children to wash and dry their hands after touching animals.
• Cover tanks and wells with child restraint covers or fill in disused ones.
• Tie spare tractor wheels to walls or lie them flat so they can't crush a child.
• Make sure children ride bikes that are appropriate for their age and height, and are in line with manufacturers' specifications.
• If children are riding a smaller model farm bike, they need to wear an approved helmet and closed-in shoes. An adult should always supervise them.
• Teach children the dangers of speeding and uneven ground.
• Make sure children know what to do in an emergency: what to do, where to go and who to call. Teach children basic first aid.
• Make it a rule for older children to always say where they are going.
• Children do listen, understand, remember and apply rules over time. But things change so farm safety needs constant attention.
• The Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) require that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no worker aged less than 15 years is present in an area of work, or carries out work of a type that is likely to cause harm to their health and safety
- Jacqui Owen LLB runs Morrinsville law firm Jacqui Owen Legal. In her other life, Jacqui runs a sharemilking operation with her husband on a 250-cow job.