Communication in farm workplaces has become more important with the Health and Safety at Work Act that came into effect on 4 April.
The new legislation has mostly not altered farmers’ responsibility to manage risk and ensure safety on farms. The main difference is now almost everyone on the farm has a role.
This comes down to communication, and farmers are looking to new farm management software to help.
Two farmers say software helps them work with staff and visitors to improve safety and make sure there are “no surprises”.
One large farm business using software for recording and sharing key information is finding it’s easy to use. The Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation employs 45 staff and uses a large number of contractors to run nine units covering a total of nearly 42,000 ha in the Waimarino area.
“Health and safety recording in the software is easy to use and follow, even for those who aren’t as comfortable with computers," says Atihau chief executive Andrew Beijeman. "The great thing is it’s all on one page.”
He says Atihau have recently loaded all their hazard information, management plans and incident reporting into the software, and have started using the online mapping to record the location of hazards.
“In the next three months we want to be able to give our contractors read-only access to a hazard map and the safety side. That way they can see everything in detail before they go on to the farm. These are big farms, and it’s about no surprises. This will probably be the biggest thing the software does for us that will improve our safety.
“Some of our more tech-savvy team members have started to use their cellphones to take photos and report hazards as they see them, which is a great way of encouraging people to engage in safety management. It also gives us a practical place to record our staff meetings, incident reporting, hazards and master emergency plans all in one spot, and with map-referenced information.”
Porangahau farmer Ben Tosswill is another using software to cover health and safety recording for his 780ha property. “It shows you are proactive and thinking about these things.
"The questions are good. It makes you consider the key aspects to be compliant.
"It includes recording on the phone when people like contractors arrive. I’ve been advised that I need to make a simple diary note that I’ve told them about hazards in the area they will be in – so this is perfect, it goes in right on the spot.”
“It is so much easier – it can be paperless,” says Collier Isaacs of FarmIQ.
“With good software you get a range of templates with all the right sections for you to fill in and mapping so it’s easy to show people what to watch out for. And with cloud storage it’s all safe and secure, and you don’t have to download updates at all. Working with a mobile app means you can record as you go and have information at your fingertips.
“Using health and safety software helps involve staff in managing health and safety. For example, you can record meetings and training, and use the software to schedule tasks that fall out of these. You can assign them to staff members so everyone knows who is responsible for what. That clear communication really helps.
“The FarmIQ System includes health and safety software that has been developed using WorkSafe New Zealand guides. When farmers have clarified what they need to do with programmes such as WorkSafe's Safer Farms or Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Farm Safety Support, then FarmIQ is a good, paperless option for the recording side of things.”
Want simple and smart health & safety recording? Check out this farm management software...