Farming is one of the most dangerous jobs in New Zealand. Health and Safety is one of the most important areas, if not the most important area for the deer farm as a work place.
Health and Safety is a topic relevant to every farm, whether the worker is a self-employed farmer, an employee engaged by the landowner or tenant, a contractor engaged by the landowner or tenant. The landowner or tenant also owes a duty of care to visitors to the farm.
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires that rural places of work should, as far as is practicable, be healthy and safe for everyone in them. To help you reduce the health and safety risks in the rural place of work, a system for assessing the risks has been developed. This is called Risk Assessment and can be used in all places of work. It has three major steps:
- Identify the hazards
- Analyse the risk
- Control the hazard
This section outlines your obligations under the Health and Employment Act 1992, provides advice on managing a wide range of health and safety hazards in and around the farm and provides tools to assist with identifying and minimising effects of hazards.
Comprehensive information about workplace safety and obligations, including guides to workplace safety planning are free to download from www.saferfarms.org.nz.
The Work Safe website includes a guide to working with deer. This good practice guide will help farmers improve safety around farmed deer by providing practical guidance on their safe handling.
Farm employers need to have an effective method for identifying existing and new hazard situations, and for regularly reassessing the hazards identified. When thinking about hazards, consider the equipment or situations that could pose a risk to yourself, your workers or others. These may include:
- Land and infrastructure (bridges, culverts, cattle grids, muddy ground, streams)
- Machinery e.g. chainsaws, slurry separators
- Farm vehicles e.g. tractors, quad bikes
- Product or commodity storage systems (e.g. silos, slurry pits, feeding pits)
- Workshop tools and equipment (e.g. welding apparatus)
- Races and yards
- Manual handling or lifting (e.g. building, fencing)
- Power sources e.g. gas, electricity
- General hazards (e.g. slippery stairs, ladders, tools)
- Noise (e.g. shearing sheds, chain sawing, tree felling)
- Diseases passed from animals to humans (e.g. leptospirosis)
- Skin cancer
For more information on the steps you can take to reduce risks on farm go to the Work Safe Agriculture safety page >>
Having identified the equipment or situations which may pose a risk, you need to assess that risk according to its possible severity in terms of life, suffering and dollars.
The risk analysis could be based on any one or more of the following factors:
- Past accident and loss data
- Maximum potential loss (human and money)
- Likelihood of recurrence
- Number of people at risk (employees involved, others in vicinity)
- Perceived severity of new accident
- Newness of the job for you or your employee.
If you have employees, talk to them, and involve family members in discussing potential hazards they may have identified.
Control the hazard
Once the hazard has been identified and the risk assessed, control measures should be used to reduce the risks of an accident. These include:
- Eliminating the hazard at source
- Reducing the hazard at source
- Reducing the employee’s exposure to the hazard
- Removing the employee from the hazard
- Containing the hazard by enclosure or isolation
- Supplying and using personal protective equipment
- Training workers about safe work practices
These topics are explained below.
Avoid hazards wherever possible
It’s always better, if possible, to avoid the hazard altogether through the design of equipment, substitution of hazardous substances, alternative systems of work and so on, rather than to rely on control measures such as use of personal protective equipment. Talk to other employers, employees, etc. This can help you identify and resolve problems before injuries occur.
Identify risks to farmworkers and visitors
Identify the hazards on farm for farmworkers and visitors. Noting hazards on a farm map and leaving the map in a prominent place e.g. in the farm office or the yards can assist with identification and draw attention to key areas to pay attention to for those that are not familiar with the property or are working on an unfamiliar part of the station.
Having signs on the property at entry points and especially at particularly hazardous areas reminds those entering the area that there are risks to consider whilst working on the farm.
Training reduces injury risks
Training for health and safety reduces the risks of injury. Employers are required to train or supervise their employees, and provide information and instruction for employees on how to work in a healthy and safe manner without exposure to hazards. Training in health and safety could include induction or ongoing training, or training about new systems of work. Information may be provided through the use of signs, information sheets or safety training manuals, or may be given verbally.
Is the equipment safe, and is it suitable for the job to be done? Many hazards can be engineered out of machinery and equipment, so check for this when buying or hiring new machinery or equipment. Regular maintenance of equipment improves safety and efficiency. In particular, safety devices and guards must operate correctly. A system should be in place which ensures maintenance conditions are complied with.
Loose clothing should not be worn when working near machinery and equipment where it can get caught in moving parts.
Creating a safe and healthy work environment
Making sure work areas are clean and tidy helps to prevent accidents. Proper storage of dangerous goods on the farm is essential and will also ensure that children are not exposed to hazards.
Outdoor work in New Zealand poses the risk of sunburn, skin cancer and heat stress. These risks can be reduced by covering up with suitable light clothing (some clothing will let harmful sun rays through), wearing a hat and sunscreen, drinking plenty of cool fluids and eating regularly. Tractors with a canopy or cab also provide some protection.
Get information about the chemicals you use
It’s important that any hazardous or dangerous substances are identified, particularly where large volumes are used or stored. Don’t decant substances into bottles or beverage containers and do ensure that all substances are properly labelled.
Read the health and safety information on the labels of pesticides. The label will provide information on storage, use, dealing with spillages and disposal. Comparing the information on labels will help you to choose the least harmful product.
In the case of pasture protection products, be aware that several products currently available are being withdrawn, whereas new controls for those that remain will commence on 1 July 2015. For more information, click here >>
Provide and use personal protective equipment
The use of personal protective equipment is the least-preferred option. Where no other control methods are available, protective clothing and equipment can provide personal protection. This might include goggles, respirators, hearing protection, gloves, boots, etc.
The equipment must be suitable for the hazard concerned. You should have a system in place to ensure that personal protective equipment is worn, maintained and replaced if damaged.
Have emergency procedures in place
Everyone who works on the farm should be aware of the emergency procedures for special hazards, such as chemical spills, fire, etc. These procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis.
Information sourced from OSH.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (The Act) applies to all workplaces in New Zealand – including farms.
To meet your obligations under The Act, you must take all practicable steps to provide and keep a safe work environment. This includes identifying risks and finding practical ways to manage hazards.
Information on Staying safe: safe management of deer is available in a convenient DINZ Deer Fact sheet (September 2015). Download your own copy here >>