Keep workers and contractors in the loop on your farm.

Keep workers and contractors in the loop on your farm.

30 October 2017

Farmers can turn their hand to many jobs on the farm but there are times when contractors are required. It’s worth noting that when extra people are about there can be more risk of an incident occurring.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015 makes it clear that when a workplace has more than one business operating, the respective businesses have overlapping duties and must manage and communicate these to each other.

This means that instead of leaving anything to chance, farmers and any contractors they engage are required to be fully aware of what the other is doing to keep each other informed of risks and how they are managed.

This means communicating be it face-to-face, by email, phone or whatever works best, before work starts so everybody clearly understands who is doing what, and who is responsible.

If a risk can’t be removed, it needs to be minimised. Making sure everybody knows about the risk is a good start.

Farmers must make sure any farm work risks are reasonably managed to protect contractors and contractors know about completed work that might be a hazard for them, e.g. recent spraying. Contractors also need to know about any physical hazards, such as subsidence or work areas near water.

Similarly, contractors must let the farmer and farm workers know of all the risks associated with work they are doing on the property.

Recently, we’ve started talking to farmers about woodlots and making sure contractors are experienced with this difficult and dangerous work, particularly if a woodlot is on a steep slope or has been left a few years longer until the price of wood rises.

We are expecting a lot of harvesting over the next few years as woodlots planted 25 to 40 years ago are ready to harvest.

The same arrangements relating to overlapping duties between yourself and the contractor apply. Be aware that forestry workers may not be as familiar with on-farm risks as other farm contractors.

Risks around accessing the work area have to be planned for and managed: for example, farms roads, culverts and bridges must be strong enough for big vehicles and equipment. You should expect the contractor to control your access to the work area and arrange some means of communication if access is required. Expect the contractor to provide a harvest plan with information about the site and how the trees will be felled. The contractor must also make provision for emergency management for events such as forest fires.

A couple of final points to note:

  1. Felling trees for commercial gain is notifiable work. WorkSafe must be notified at least 24 hours in advance.
  2. If you decide to do the job yourself, using your own workers and equipment, refer to WorkSafe’s Approved Code of Practice – Safety and Health in Forest Operations.

Article supplied by WorkSafe