OH&S on the family NZ farm


Rachel Short is a consultant for OnFarmSafety New Zealand and says the best part of her job is being able to offer solutions that make sense to the individual business. Source: Stratford Press

Ms Short and her colleague Shelley Beare work with farmers across New Zealand, helping them find ways to implement health and safety procedures and policies that meet legislative requirements as well as being relevant to the individual needs of their farm.

Andrew and Tanya Dobbin are in their third season share milking 300 cows at a farm on Opunake Road and say having Ms Short help them set up their health and safety strategies was the best decision.

“She knows her stuff and comes out to the farm so you aren’t sat in an office trying to explain what your place looks like. She sees it and walks it with you,” Mrs Dobbin said.

Mrs Dobbin says working with Ms Short has made them more confident in how they do things throughout the business.

“Our old policy simply identified hazards,” she said.

“Now we have something which doesn’t just identify the hazards but also tries to correct them.”

With two children, the couple say it is important that they are able to ensure their workplace is as safe as possible.

Part of the appeal of farming is being able to have your children with you at times in your workplace. So we aren’t just looking at ways to keep the business safe, but we are making changes that help us keep our children as safe as possible too.

“Farming is often a family business, and it is important to find ways that help keep everyone safe on the farm, visitors, contractors, workers and family members,” Ms Beare said.

While every farm she has worked with has been unique, Ms Beare says some key messages carry across them all.

“The importance of respecting machinery, the land, the animals and your environment, of recognising the risks and taking steps to ensure those risks are well managed.”

When Ms Beare started working with Kent and Nicola Weston-Arnold in Waitotara, Mr Kent said he and Nicola thought they were heading in the right direction but wanted to make sure.

Health and Safety is a vital part of being a good employer, says Kent.