What is better farming?

What is better farming?

1 October 2020

Safer Farm’s General Manager, Tony Watson, on the role of communication in farm safety.

Learning from what goes right

When things go right, we hardly give it a second thought. It’s like being in auto-mode. This applies everywhere, including on-farm, at home and even on the roads. Fortunately, things do go right most of the time, but it’s not so good when things go wrong.

Traditional health and safety has a bad rap. That may be, in part, due to its focus on what could go wrong and emphasis on things like folders and signs. Farmers, like many other people in business, realise that folders and signs alone don’t make a workplace safer.

Often people are more concerned about a visit from WorkSafe than actually making sure they’re doing what they can to make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day.

So what is a safer farm?

Every business becomes a safer place when people go about their daily work and understand which parts of the job require a bit more attention to make sure the job goes right. Think of any job on farm and you’ll find some parts need a bit more focus. An example is hosing the yard after milking. While most of this can be done on auto, you need to really focus on the job when the water gets close to sources of electricity. Even when you’re making a cuppa, most of this can be done on auto, but it makes sense to focus your attention when pouring the boiling water!

Farms are safer when people know which jobs (or parts of jobs) need their undivided attention. One way to achieve this is through discussing it as a team and considering which parts of the job a new person or someone unfamiliar with your farm might need to be aware of.

Experience helps, and it’s always great to share ideas and agree on the best ways to do the tricky parts of the job. Communication between everyone is key.

ACC data also shows that livestock and lifting or tripping over things cause the most injuries on farm. Meanwhile, the most fatalities on farm are caused while working on, or near, vehicles and machinery.

To keep you and your people safe on farm, it’s good to focus your attention and make the right decisions – especially when you’re about to do those trickier parts of the job.


It’s coming up to that time of the year when we see more people on farm over Christmas and throughout summer. As well as contractors, friends and family may be on farm, as well as kids wanting to muck in over the holidays.

To be sure everyone safe, we need to be absolutely positive that people who are unfamiliar with the farm and property are explicitly told and understand where it’s okay for them to go and where it’s not.

When a child is injured or dies on farm, it’s usually because an adult didn’t reinforce the ‘no go’ areas or keep an eye on them.

Let’s learn from that and think about what we need to do

to make sure things go right, and our people have a good experience and get home safe, every time. That's better farming.

Article supplied by Safer Farms