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Candid Conversations with the Regulator

In case you missed it, back in October we were lucky enough to host a webinar with Noeleen Musson, State Inspector for SafeWork NSW. Along with Kirby and Colleen at Safe Ag Systems, Noeleen walked us through why the state regulator exist, what their role is and what you can expect during a farm inspection.

Along with discussing the regulatory priorities for the year, Noeleen also shared some real-life examples and success stories relating to health and safety on farm. Check out the webinar for yourself as the team outlines how you can get started and where to seek support with safety on your farm.

Don’t become part of the statistics. Make those positive changes. Do something.

We know that each state has different legislation relating to health and safety, but did you know the principles are largely the same? By providing the purpose of the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulation; having a way for people to have a safe business, safe systems of work and then to go home safely at the end of each day.

“Where these incidents and fatalities are happening, it's not a hobby farming situation, these are massive farming situations in some instances. They're not people who have no idea, they're people who have lots of inherent knowledge”

 

What’s the difference between Safe Work Australia and my state regulator?

Safe Work Australia is the advisory body that prepares policy, a central point to collaborate between other regulators, they create model codes of practice then it is up to each state and territory to consider how they would adopt that in their home state. You should refer to legislation in your state and the relevant code of practice.

 

Why does a Safety Regulator exist?

Did you know that when you’re running a business by law you're a person conducting a business or undertaking? You're running a farming business, it's a workplace whether or not you are employing people.


A Safety Regulators responsibility is to:  

  • to provide information and advice relating to workplace health and safety, they are there to help our industry improve safety

  • they issue some licenses and registrations for potentially dangerous work

  • investigate workplace incidents and they do have a compliance role to enforce work of and safety laws in our state or territory

 

What do Inspectors do?

Yes, your farm may be your home. A Safety Inspector will not walk around your home unless it is part of your farm that relates to the incident.

  • respond to an incident, complaint, request for advice or prevention program

  • powers under the WHS legislation

  • provide information and advice: a Safety Inspector can enter a workplace and compel a business or its workers to cooperate and answer questions. To show them documents or seize evidence

  • explain products and services

  • provide practical advice to achieve compliance

  • investigate or verify compliance

  • issue notices to secure compliance

  • explain what's expected of you

The Safety Inspectors are there to work with us, not against us.

Did you know you can request an advisory visit with a State Inspector, “it's at your invitation so the agreement between us is that I'm there to support you with your work health and safety”. It's not as scary as it sounds, “It's not just jumping to a fine. It's giving you some time to fix up the problem, in a time frame that we both agree to so it might be some structured advice about how you achieve compliance”.

 

At this point you probably want to know what happens during an inspection on farm?

It all depends on why the Safety Inspectors are attending your workplace and how serious it is. They want to know how you’re performing work and if you have systems in place.

If somebody has had multiple visits from SafeWork NSW, there have been a number of complaints or a high number of compliance interactions then a stronger approach may be required. What an inspector can't do is just walk away from a safety issue if it needs to be addressed. You both have a legal obligation.

 

There's been an incident, what does a Safety Inspector do?

  • respond

  • arrive on site

  • meet stakeholders

  • take notes

  • take photos

  • collect evidence

  • notices

  • statements

  • objective report

 

Where can you start? Culture, this is your farm, it's your business and you've got obligations. 

To learn more, listen to real-life examples and gain more insight into the process flow of an investigation continue watching our webinar below.

 

 

Topic: Candid Conversations

Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.

 

Originally published 05 January, 2024.

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