We all know on farm safety is important and if we’re being honest, we know that the statistics for accidents on farms are high. We also know that we have a duty of care to people that come to our property including staff, contractors, visitors, and our own family, but how do we ensure we are meeting it?
It is a seemingly overwhelming task that leaves us feeling unsure of where to start, uninspired and prioritising things we feel we have more control over. Workplace health and safety (WHS) goes in the too hard basket and never comes out unless there is an incident, and we are forced to deal with it.
Reflecting on Farm Safety Week last week, we thought we’d address some of the hurdles or roadblocks that we come across to implementing a safety management system. We hope that by shining a light on these issues and addressing them, that the process and result won’t seem so scary and unachievable.
But first, what is a safety management system, why do you need one and what can it do for you?
A safety management system is a set of policies, procedures and plans to manage health and safety in the workplace
It is a system-based approach, ensuring continuous improvement and consideration is given to farm safety
A platform to make considered and informed decisions
Demonstrates a due diligence to protect your employees
Improves safety culture
Now, why do relatively few businesses have a documented safety management system? We are sure that it isn’t because they don’t know or don’t care. Here is our take on what else could be at play…
Putting you and your business practices under scrutiny can be uncomfortable. You don’t know what you don’t know and with safety there are lots of different legislative requirements that can be wordy and confusing. You may also be worried about having to change what you do and the implications of that on the day-to-day operations. The time and stress involved in an investigation by the work health and safety regulator would be much more intimidating if you were unprepared than developing a system in a friendly team environment. If you had a documented system in place and something were to happen, then you would have the peace of mind to know you would be able to provide all the required information.
We are busy
We get it, running an agricultural business is a busy exercise. Everyone seems to be time poor these days and there is always something that comes up. Markets, weather, and breakdowns wait for no man or woman, so it is hard to plan and prioritise two days where everyone puts down the tools and works on the business rather than in it. Getting everyone in the business on the same page and around the table on the same day has huge benefits for discussing and working through the issues together. Having one system that everyone understands and is happy to work under also creates efficiencies and gives you the confidence that things are being done in line with your expectations.
It seems expensive
In a world where the costs of everything is rising, it is tough to prioritise spending on a line item that is difficult to attribute a direct benefit to. By spending thousands, what is my return? We have had clients go to their insurance companies and even their banks and ask for discounts based on the fact that they now have a safety management system in place. Your ability to manage risks is an important factor in providing confidence to the organisations you deal with.
The cost of developing and implementing a safety management system is also much less than a fine for not meeting your legal obligations. Implementing a safety management system into your business may be a tax-deductible exercise, as providing a safe workplace for all employees is a legal obligation.
In the interests of cost saving, you may have investigated or even purchased downloadable templates bought online thinking the overall price is less than developing a fully supported system. But what is the cost of your time and peace of mind? We know from feedback that even though you have the best intentions, those templates never get finished or result in a full safety management system. How do you know what implications the decisions you make will have on the overall business? Would you be confident that you had your system right and would you be able to communicate it to everyone in the team who must work under it?
It's too complex
You may be thinking that it's all too hard and a safety management system is just adding another layer of bureaucracy. That’s where we come in! We support you through the decisions you need to make, give you all the information including the associated level of risk. Then it is up to you. It’s your decision and we are not there to force anything on you or audit you (that’s not our job!). We help you pull everything out of your head and document it. Your operation and your decisions make up your system – it’s fully customised to you. You don’t have to know what to put where and how to word it because we do that and tailor your system for you and your situation.
Sounds like I’ll have to deal with tricky conversations
The advantage of having us in the room is that we can tackle any hard conversations and make it a safe place to discuss and come up with solutions. We normalize tricky topics like helmets and make sure everyone understands what level of risk is associated with any decision during the day-to-day tasks.
One of the hardest things is having to ask team members, contractors, and service providers to comply with your system and requirements. But what if they get cranky and won’t want to work or deal with us anymore? We set up systems and prepare you for this which makes it easy on everyone.
See it as a team building exercise. A safe workplace takes a whole team approach, which is why we prefer to work with the entire team when developing your safety system. We have found that having all team members in the room helps with implementation, it gives everyone on the team an understanding of the risks and helps with buy in/ compliance. If they are part of the making the decision, they are much more likely to follow through and do it.
Creating the system together ensures everyone is on the same page which is also is the first step in creating a strong safety culture – a supportive workplace that puts safety first means that you’ll have a team that makes you aware of when there are issues on farm so you’re able to deal with them!
Implementing the plan
We have an app to help you manage and review your system efficiently once it’s done, that way the system is consistently updated rather than gathering dust on the shelf.
The Safe Station App completes your workplace health and safety system by providing you with a one-stop-shop for your policies, procedures, and safety plans. The Safe Station App also provides useful features such as:
Record, track and schedule maintenance & repairs of vehicles and equipment
Record and track all chemical usage including batch numbers and location of use
Rainfall recorder, comparing monthly, 6 monthly and yearly rainfall
Remind business admins when policies and procedures are due for review
Why Safe Station?
There are many advantages of the Safe Station system but we’ve summarised a few key ones here:
A cost-effective system, that allows you to focus on running your business
Customised to suit the needs of your operation
Ongoing support post-delivery, including continuous legislation updates
Consistency and clarity across all employees and management
Improves your safety culture
The customised Safe Station system allows you to enhance the best asset you have – yourself and your people. The system allows you to increase your business productivity through consistency on farm across all employees. We aim to give the time back to you, so you can continue to do what you do best, running your business!
We take the hard work out of the construction of the system and give you back time to focus on your business. At the end of the delivery, your customised safety management system is ready for implementation, and you have access to the Safe Station App.
Is a system ever perfect, absolutely not! Will having a system in place mean that nothing bad will ever happen? No. Does it make you feel better when it is done and there is something in place, yes absolutely!
How do I get in touch?
To book your Safe Station delivery or to find out more, contact email@example.com or phone 07 4982 2996.