October is a peak time for injuries in the dairy sector, which can cause challenges on farm with both spring calving and twice daily milking underway.
“The words ‘in the cattle shed’ feature frequently in claims – although a lot are in the yard too,” says Al McCone, Agriculture Lead for WorkSafe New Zealand.
“A combination of more time in the milking shed, long days, fatigue and lots of things to do are all likely to be factors in the numbers of injuries rising in spring.”
The highest number of ACC claims for injuries on dairy farms requiring more than a week off work involve live cattle; the second highest is due to slips, trips and falls.
“An injury to arms, wrists, ankles, head or back is going to make it hard to work and puts a heavier workload on others,” says Al. “Slips and trips most often happen in the pit during milking, when handling cattle, getting cows in for milking and during maintenance and cleaning.”
Measures to help manage these risks include:
Identifying and mitigating risks by making practical changes are the ‘easy wins’, says Al.
Making risk identification part of your search for best production has many benefits. Get everyone who works in the shed together, map out what happens on the farm day by day, and ask everyone to help work out how you can get everything done more efficiently. What will come out are the things that make a long day longer, things that cause people to waste time, and the things that lead to injuries.
Encouraging people to change safety behaviours can be difficult. But if those people are part of developing the solution, they will hold each other to account. Just give them permission to add their ideas on how things can be better. They will come up with ideas like following a good system for cleaning up spills, keeping workspaces clear, putting stuff away in the right place, and not running in the shed. They will then feel comfortable with having these as the ‘farm rules’.
The benefit is you’ll have engaged workers who put more effort into the farm. Farms that have used this type of approach typically find lower staff turnover, fewer ‘sick’ days, and higher production. Many report the biggest change is better communication within the team.
“Good and bad practices are habit-forming and, for change to stick, it has to be led from the top. If you lead this process, make a point of always following the rules, and not walking past something that needs doing, others will follow your lead.”
Article supplied by Worksafe