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Record keeping in agriculture. Why is it important to keep it current?

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Do you sometimes feel like you're drowning in paperwork? Keeping too many files and not sure why?

Record keeping is a challenging task for all business owners, but in the agricultural industry, keeping up-to-date and accurate records will not only save you time and stress, but you'll be addressing your work health and safety responsibilities too.

Record keeping is a useful risk management tool for agribusinesses. Among your records should be a full set of up-to-date safety policies. This will help with new staff induction, current staff training updates and ensuring you meet insurance requirements.

Keeping accurate records in farming also allows you to check the health and safety performance of your business and make improvements where necessary. Naturally, the size and scale of your business will determine the detail and extent of recording you'll need to make, but even a basic register of safety policies and induction records is a good place to start.

It's also essential everyone in your workplace is aware of the records they need to keep, including where they're kept, so everyone can access them.


Some records to keep:

  • Safety reporting procedures - any incidents and injuries, including near misses. This will help you determine actions to improve and prevent reoccurrences.
  • Hazardous chemicals on site and an asbestos register if there is any at your workplace.
  • Registration documents for machinery.
  • Testing, maintenance and inspection details for specific types of equipment.
  • Hazard identification, risk assessment and control processes you have in place at your workplace. This is particularly useful in showing you are actively keeping your workplace safe by being proactive.
  • Training and inductions for workers and contractors
  • Employment / worker records including general records, pay and hours worked, leave, superannuation and tax

Work out what records are compulsory for your individual operation and develop a system to keep these updated regularly. There are many resources available to farm businesses, make use of these and seek professional help if needed. Back up your files into a master document regularly. Keep this as a separate copy to your everyday files. This is your insurance against any issues occurring with your farm records.

Available resources for Australia: Australian Taxation Office, Fair Work Australia, Safe Work Australia and your relevant office of business and consumer affairs.

Available resources for New Zealand: Inland Revenue, New Zealand Government, WorkSafe and Employment New Zealand

Available resources for the United Kingdom: HM Revenue & Customs, Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and your local consumer rights group.

Topics: Safety Management System

CTA - Safety Checklist

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 03 March, 2020.

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