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What does Health and Safety Compliance mean?

Work health and safety is the act of managing risks to health and safety of everyone in your workplace. Whether you call it WHS, OHS, health and safety or safety and health, you need to comply with current legislation and regulations to keep everyone on-farm safe.

What is the difference between these two terms you ask? Legislation is passed down by parliament, it serves as a description of the legal requirements as well as the punishment for breaches and violations. Legislation is statutory law. Whereas regulations are the process of monitoring and enforcing that law. Regulations outline how an authority will apply that law and are often utilised to focus on specific sections of legislation.

What does it mean to be compliant for an agribusiness?

When your farm is non-compliant, it means your business has failed to comply with its legal obligations or industry standards. In Australia, under WHS laws, you must ensure the health and safety of workers as well as the health and safety of others on your farm. The Australian Government states that, in order to be compliant you must:

Your workers also have a role to play when it comes to WHS obligations, they are required to:

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What is compliance software in farming?

Farmers should utilize safety and compliance software to help their agribusiness monitor processes, systems and controls to correspond with industry standards and regulations. This type of compliance software should assist you with tracking, monitoring, and reviewing your current practices.

If correctly chosen, your safety and compliance software will support your agribusiness through centralized data, automated workflows and streamlined processes. In turn encouraging workers to promote a positive safety culture whilst providing your management team with improved visibility across your operations and greater knowledge of compliance requirements.

What if my workers fail to comply with WHS? 

The two most common breaches in Australia when it comes to health and safety legislation are failure of the employer to provide a safe working environment, and failure by the employer to provide information, instruction, training, or supervision.

Yes, it can happen, a worker can fail to comply, but ultimately employers are responsible for health and safety on-farm. It is your responsibility to investigate non-compliance or a breach and notify your worker with a written warning, giving them a chance to correct their behaviour before taking further action.

Why is Health and Safety Compliance important for farmers?

According to the National Farmers Federation, “As of August 2019, 318,600 people were employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries which accounted for around 2.5% of the national workforce.” For those people who work in the agricultural industry, they are at a higher risk of injury or fatality.

Correctly implemented safety and compliance software can help an agribusiness to set policies, procedures and frameworks helping to prevent fines or penalties. When a safety management system is incorporated into daily operations, you are integrating tools to help you work towards your compliance requirements as well. Safety and compliance software or a paper system is supporting you by documenting your processes, record keeping and gathering evidence.

Software over paperwork allows you to respond to compliance changes quickly. Staying on top of compliance means you will have the ability to act and adjust in your farm based on information provided in your system. Using real-time data, you can identify what workers are completing safety documentation, who is trained and licensed. Digital safety and compliance management, allows you to detect knowledge gaps amongst your workers. With real-time information, you can avoid further safety implications.

One thing to keep in mind when tackling health and safety on your farm and within your agribusiness operations, the records you keep along the way are supporting your compliance, just by having a safety management system does not make you compliant.

Compliance is a journey not necessarily an end result of your health and safety efforts, it takes a little bit of work each day, helping your team strive towards an end goal.

As a company Safe Ag Systems understands that 100% compliance is something few businesses will achieve and it may not realistic or obtainable, it isn’t a set and forget metric, it is forever changing in order to help keep us safe. Everyone in agriculture should endeavour to be compliant, start by setting small goals and continue to work on them. By keeping records and implementing best practice when it comes to farm safety, you are always working towards a safe working environment.

Topics: Safety Management System

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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 30 September, 2022.

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