Safety kit a grower’s best friend
The new Horticultural Health and Safety Toolkit is set to be potato growers’ best friend, according to Justine Croft, Potatoes NZ’s business and administration manager.
“It’s designed for growers,” she said.
It contains good graphics and forms to fill out and its farm hazard map can be worked through with staff on a wet day.
Croft said all growers should want their workers to be safe because it makes them more productive.
“And you don’t want to be the one knocking on the door saying someone isn’t coming home. Mostly workers will be happy that you care about them and their welfare.”
First growers need to make a decision that health and safety is important.
“Then identify ways to manage your risks and make occupational health and safety an everyday habit,” she said.
“Keep notes – it just makes sense to.”
It is not a legal requirement to make notes, and the notes don’t need to be neat and tidy, she said. “No one cares that it’s scribbled.”
But if there is a problem later on growers could be asked for notes as a record of what they had done. “And it’s easier if you can show in your diary that you have talked about it.”
Croft urged growers to use their regular meetings with staff to talk for three to five minutes about what had happened the previous day.
“Ask them what went wrong and if they had any heart-racing moments,” she said.
Then they should speak about the day ahead, what workers are going to go and what could go wrong or hurt them.
“This is your gift and opportunity to learn from them,” she said.
“You can encourage your team to talk and then ask them what can be learned from what went wrong and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Some growers will be surprised at the fixes their own team comes up with.
“They know what to do,” she said.
These solutions don’t need to be written in the property’s hazard management register but instead can go up on a whiteboard so everyone can see them and know what they are.
A record can be made on a mobile phone that staff have been told.
“If it’s a way of operating, write it in your operations manual,” she said.
She also urged growers to think about the language they use to talk about health and safety, making sure they communicate with staff in a way they understand.
“Talk about knowing what might go wrong and how it can be fixed, not about identifying hazards and mitigating risks,” she said.
“Don’t make it scary.”
Growers should work closely with WorkSafe as it is now not just a regulator as it was in the past, but mandated to educate and work alongside those in the agricultural sector.
“You can phone and ask for help,” she said.
“They will be pleased you want to engage. The last thing they want to do is prosecute. They are human beings so make them your friends.”
▴ Justine Croft – safety means productivity. _________________________________