Health & Safety laws require people conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to identify all hazards and take all reasonable steps to eliminate or manage those hazards so no one is injured. In one recent case a customer died after health and safety plans were not followed by staff. The employer (a Not For Profit organisation) was fined $425,000 for failing to ensure that staff followed the policies and plans put in place.

The exemptions for farms relating to people crossing farm land do not significantly change your standard obligations to keep workers and others safe on your farm.

The form of ownership of the farm will not protect you from responsibility. Committee members, trustees and farm managers will all have duties that cannot be contracted out of or insured against.

Your primary duty is to keep everyone safe. To do that there are numerous steps you should follow to make sure you have done everything practical to ensure everyone is safe.

The laws are complicated and require a lot to be done to satisfy your obligations. Here are some of the main things you need to do:

  • Identify all hazards around the farm (e.g. dangerous chemicals)
  • Manage the hazards
  • Eliminate (e.g. change from a dangerous chemical to a less toxic one)
  • Minimise (e.g. lock up chemicals safely, provide protective clothing, masks etc when using)
  • Monitor hazards regularly especially if they can’t be eliminated or isolated.
  • Keep records of what you do. You need to be able to prove what you have done.
  • Hazard register – ones identified, steps taken to eliminate or minimise.
  • Accident Register – record events and near misses
  • Farm map – helps identify hazards, safe routes and any danger zones
  • Hazardous substances and new organism safety data records
  • Employee training- what have you provided, when and who?
  • Farm rules- what are they? When did you provide them to staff/contractors and how?
  • H&S audits- when were these carried out? What was found? What steps were taken to deal with any issues?
  • Contractor information provided to you- use this information as appropriate and keep the information so you can prove what you received and did.
  • Supplier information-ensure that this information is made known as appropriate to your staff.
  • Improvement Notices- keep records if you receive one and what you have done to comply.
  • Have rules for dangerous tasks and bring these to the attention of all employees.  Train them on the rules and processes to follow.  Supervise staff – the less experienced and more dangerous the task the more supervision required.
  • Have a Training Programme                           
  • Induction – advise of hazards, show them hazards around the farm.
  • Identify training needs.
  • Provide the training (use external providers as required).
  • Record each person’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Make sure they know what they are.

Involve employees in hazard identification and management.  Get employees to report any hazards, accidents or near misses to you.

Have plans for emergencies:

  • Procedures for handling events
  • Identify suitable people
  • Contact numbers and means to communicate
  • First aid supplies
  • Emergency equipment e.g. fire extinguisher.
  • Monitor environmental issues - e.g. dust, noise, chemicals, sun exposure, fatigue.
  • Consider whether you have to report to Worksafe.
  • Serious harm events.
  • Prevent further incidents – learn from any events to prevent them happening again.

Take safety seriously.  Keep yourself, your whānau, your staff and manuhiri (visitors) safe on the farm. Governing Trusts/Boards and Incorporations must ensure that there are processes in place to make sure that the boxes are not just being ticked, but the plans are being followed.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.