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.

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“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. _________________________________

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