Action area I

SafeWork NSW will be working closely with the farming sector to develop materials that will guide farming businesses in what a landscape could look like and how to implement such a plan.

The Work health and safety roadmap 2022 (WHS roadmap) 19 first action area incorporates the concept of a health and safety landscape. A landscape is a framework that will guide farmers in putting in place a basic safety management system. This will help keep those working or living on the farm safe. It is designed to be simple, practical and affordable and maximise the value of efforts to improve safety which can be included in your broader farm management plan.

SafeWork NSW will be working closely with the farming sector to develop materials that will guide farming businesses in what a landscape could look like and how to implement such a plan. We commit to working with and supporting the sector to achieve this.

What might a health and safety landscape look like on a farm?

The five elements of the health and safety landscape together with industry-suggested examples are listed below.

Leadership from the top

Farm managers and leaders are always being observed and need to lead by example. They can visibly demonstrate their commitment to safety by doing things like ensuring they wear their helmet when riding quad bikes, taking unsafe machinery out of service immediately until repaired, or encouraging the reporting of safety issues.

Organisational safety capability and practices

The farm has set rules and procedures on how to do things safely which are not deviated from.

Consultation and communication

Farm managers involve workers in discussions about health and safety. Communications are regular, easy to understand and issues followed up.

Safe environment

Farm workers are provided with safe machinery, facilities and protective equipment. Both workers physical health and mental health is considered. Farmers work with their supply chains to buy in the lowest risk products (eg least toxic chemicals)

Worker capability

All workers, particularly those that are new or inexperienced are appropriately trained and supervised to do the job safely.

Improve recovery at work practices

Agriculture sector data indicates that there needs to be improvement in practices to return injured or ill workers back to work quickly in a way that is best for them and the farming enterprise. On average 20, returning injured or ill workers back to work in agriculture is taking longer than most other industries.

SafeWork NSW and industry agree to:

  • increase the awareness and uptake of vocational and equipment and workplace modification programs within the agriculture sector
  • upskill the SafeWork NSW Inspectorate to ensure they are aware of agriculture specific recovery at work solutions
  • upskill medical and allied health providers to understand on and off farm options for returning injured farm workers to work
  • disseminate to farmers case studies that show how recovery at work strategies can be implemented.

SafeWork NSW will:

  • work with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) to improve practices to support injured or ill workers in returning to work and reducing the costs associated with each claim
  • consider options to recognise farms that implement a safety landscape to acknowledge effort.

We will know we are on track if:

  • time away from work has a decreasing trend
  • the average cost of claims and time lost from injury or illness continues to decrease

Case study

A farm hand was kicked by a cow and sustained a left knee injury whilst at work. Following medical advice it was determined that the worker would need six to eight weeks for recovery and treatment. The insurer engaged a rehabilitation provider to assist the employer to identify suitable duties.  Whilst the worker was unable to complete some of their typical work duties such as shearing, operating the tractor and working with livestock, they were able to return to work within two weeks completing duties such as monitoring and maintaining fences, spraying weeds and lawn maintenance. The worker gradually added more duties as recovery progressed and was back at work completing all the pre-injury duties.

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