Are your policies up to date and when should they be reviewed?
Having work health and safety policies demonstrates your commitment to ensuring a safe work environment and to reducing health and safety risks for all workers, contractors and visitors.
Policies should be developed through consultation with your workers and usually outline the responsibilities of management and workers. It should also encourage cooperation and consultation between managers and their workers and outline how WHS will be managed.
In a farming environment, there are usually several policies needed to be written and maintained depending on the type of farm, machinery used, and many other factors.
But writing a policy does not need to be onerous or time-consuming – there are templates available to use which may require only a few modifications, or you may feel prompted by the template to draft your own relevant to your particular situation.
3 simple steps to get you started
Step One: Create a Work Health and Safety Policy.
This is an overarching policy which tells everyone what safety on your property is all about. It’s a good idea to consider your audience when drafting your policy. Think about your communication style and make sure it’s clear and direct.
Step two: Think about your daily operations.
Start to think about other things in your business where you need to provide some guidance to your workers and others. Start with your high risk tasks and some time to assess it.
As the name suggests, Risk Management is the process of managing and controlling risks within your agribusiness. But what are you actually doing if you are ‘managing risk’? The good news, it can be a simple process – just keep S.A.F.E.
S = See it. Identify the risks and hazards and things that could hurt someone.
A = Assess it. Think about what harm could come from the hazard, and how serious it might be.
F = Fix it. Put ‘controls’ in place to eliminate or reduce the risk.
E = Evaluate it. Did the controls work as you thought? This gives you a chance to tweak things to improve safety. Keep tweaking until you’re happy you’ve got things as good as possible.
Step three: Finally, document and communicate.
No matter what method you decide to use, paper or digital, make sure you communicate your expectations clearly.
What are some of the most used policies on Australian Farms?
Below is a list of some of the policies which may be required on-farm – as you can see, not all of these are relevant to every farm or every situation. Therefore, it is essential you develop your own policies. Here are a few suggestions:
Contractor on farm policy
Electrical safety policy
Fit for work policy
Golden rules policy
Manual handling policy
Operating machinery and equipment policy
Quad bike and motorbike policy
Remote and isolated work policy
Work health and safety policy
Working at heights policy
Working in confined spaces policy
Working outdoors policy
Working with chemicals and managing a chemical spill policy
How often should you review and update your policies?
Policies need to be reviewed from time to time, to make sure they still make sense and keep people safe.
- You must review them if there are any changes in the workplace (for example, you’ve bought a new bit of plant equipment and the safety risk has changed).
- You must make sure they comply with the law and any changes in legislation or regulations.
- You must also review policies and procedures “at regular intervals”. There is no hard and fast rule but policies and procedures around high risk work should perhaps be reviewed every couple of years, and low risk you might review in 4-5 years.
On a final note
What ever the timeframe you decide on, make sure you’ve documented it and why decided that. Put a review date on your policies and stick to it. It is also essential these policies have been read, understood and signed by your employees.
Originally published 03 March, 2020.