Fruition Hor­ti­cul­ture

Health & Safety in Work Act one year on

The Orchardist - - Contents - By Wendy Bradley


Let’s see how some in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als feel about health and safety in New Zealand twelve months on.These re­sults were based on a sur­vey con­ducted by Safe­guard ( http:// www. safe­guard. co. nz/ data­bases/ skin/ safe­guard/ im­ages/con­tent/ad­hoc/Sur­veys/sta­te­ofthen­ation.pdf).

Are we tak­ing safety se­ri­ously in the work­place? There was an 11% in­crease in pos­i­tive re­sponses to this ques­tion – 78% agreed, com­pared with 67% twelve months ear­lier. When asked about whether health and safety had im­proved in their work­place in the last twelve months, the num­ber of re­spon­dents who saw an im­prove­ment showed a 4.8% in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year. Other key find­ings were that 72% of re­spon­dents said risks were dis­cussed where busi­nesses shared a work site (this is a key re­quire­ment set out in the Act), and 94.3% felt that or­gan­i­sa­tions were more likely to be suc­cess­ful if they man­age their health and safety. Progress is be­ing made, but maybe too slowly!

What did the sur­vey iden­tify could be done bet­ter? When asked if they thought the ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken in their work­place would not harm them or make them un­well only 48% felt con­fi­dent about this. Some 78% agreed that their safety was be­ing taken se­ri­ously but only 48% felt this way when it came to their health. Of those sur­veyed, 54% also felt that or­gan­i­sa­tions were only do­ing the min­i­mum to com­ply with the law rather than mak­ing an ef­fort to im­prove work­place health and safety.

While over­all health and safety may be viewed as im­prov­ing across New Zealand, the rate of ac­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties that oc­cur at work re­mains high – so we still have plenty we can do to im­prove.

There has not been a de­cline in work­place fa­tal­i­ties nor in se­ri­ous harm no­ti­fi­ca­tions for the agri­cul­ture sec­tor since the new leg­is­la­tion was in­tro­duced. The graph be­low shows the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties in agri­cul­ture (which in­cludes hor­ti­cul­ture), show­ing a dis­turb­ing trend­line. Work­safe New Zealand­­safe/ re­search/ health- and- safety- data/ no­ti­fi­able- events/ work­place­se­ri­ous-harm-archive/se­ri­ous-harm-no­ti­fi­ca­tions-by-in­dus­try.


For me, the new leg­is­la­tion has en­sured that I con­tinue to be very aware of keep­ing safe and ad­vis­ing oth­ers of any­thing that I find or ex­pe­ri­ence that might be un­safe in my ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties. In the busi­ness I work with, there was al­ways a monthly dis­cus­sion on health and safety – this has con­tin­ued. If a sit­u­a­tion arises that is a mat­ter of health and safety, it is recorded in the in­ci­dent reg­is­ter. Then a full re­view of that sit­u­a­tion is un­der­taken with the team, which is doc­u­mented and if nec­es­sary any new pro­ce­dures are im­ple­mented. All the team is kept in­formed of any new pro­ce­dures. This is no dif­fer­ent to what was be­ing un­der­taken be­fore. I guess we are just all more aware of be­ing seen to make sure we do our bit thor­oughly.

It is ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to be con­cerned about our own health and safety and that of other em­ploy­ees or col­leagues we work with. If you know any­thing at all about a health or safety is­sue in your work­place and fail to tell your su­per­vi­sor or oth­ers you work with, you could be li­able should an in­ci­dent oc­cur and some­one is se­ri­ously in­jured or more se­ri­ously, dies. The best way to ex­plain this is to pro­vide an ex­am­ple:­cu­pa­tional-health-safe­ty­carolien-laing.

You are an em­ployee on an or­chard or work­ing for a con­trac­tor and you were aware that the brakes on the trac­tor when you last drove it were not work­ing as well as they should have been, but you did not say any­thing. One week

“It is im­por­tant to know who is do­ing what for that day, dis­cuss past is­sues and learn from them, and all the time talk about what we can do bet­ter and safer in our work­place.”

later while another work col­league was driv­ing the same trac­tor the brakes failed on a slope and the driver lost con­trol and the trac­tor rolled. The driver sus­tained some bro­ken bones and ma­jor bruis­ing and was for­tu­nately thrown from the trac­tor rather than be­ing pinned un­der­neath it. He had to have at least eight weeks off work and could not con­tinue prac­tis­ing for a marathon he had planned to en­ter. He also lost his in­de­pen­dence while re­cov­er­ing as he could not drive so could not at­tend his chil­dren’s sports ac­tiv­i­ties and was un­able to con­tinue his vol­un­teer role as team man­ager for his son’s sports team.

When an in­ci­dent re­sult­ing in se­ri­ous in­jury (such as the one above) oc­curs, it will be in­ves­ti­gated by Work­safe. In­cluded in this in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be the in­ter­view­ing of other work col­leagues, in­clud­ing you.You would have to share the fact that you were aware that the brakes seemed faulty yet you felt it was not sig­nif­i­cant enough to have raised it with any­one.

It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery em­ployer and em­ployee to be con­cerned with health and safety. It is a good time to re­view the new leg­is­la­tion a year on from its in­tro­duc­tion and to con­sider any changes that need to be made in your work­place.

This point was re­it­er­ated in an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle I read re­cently by Al McCone the agri­cul­ture pro­gramme man­ager of Work­Safe New Zealand.Al said “it's about be­ing safe”, not about com­pli­ance. It’s about “busi­ness as a whole” and not just about health and safety ( http://www.­ness/farm­ing/opin­ion/91869828/ work­safe-to-farm­ers-pre­vent­ing-harm-is-not-hard).

For those who were al­ready aware of health and safety is­sues, the new leg­is­la­tion may not have meant many changes. Oth­ers may have be­come more care­ful to wear the ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tive gear, en­sure that equip­ment is be­ing op­er­ated cor­rectly and that all staff are fully trained. They may now be more aware of emer­gency pro­ce­dures.


Let’s con­tinue to main­tain good health and safety habits. It re­ally isn’t that hard.

Re­mem­ber there is one great piece of health and safety equip­ment we all have and that is our mouth. Work­safe are cur­rently run­ning a cam­paign to en­cour­age all work­places to have reg­u­lar chats about health and safety in­volv­ing all work­ers, su­per­vi­sors and man­agers. It is im­por­tant to know who is do­ing what for that day, dis­cuss past is­sues and learn from them, and all the time talk about what we can do bet­ter and safer in our work­place.

A use­ful tool to help keep you up to date is the Work­safe news­let­ter that can be sent to your email in­box. Reg­is­ter via this link: https://www.busi­­scribe-to-ournewslet­ter/.

If you are still un­sure about what the new leg­is­la­tion re­ally means for you and your busi­ness, or you feel it might be use­ful to re­fresh and up­skill your­self and oth­ers, Fruition Hor­ti­cul­ture (BOP) Ltd of­fer a one-day in­ter­ac­tive health and safety course.This can be de­liv­ered at any lo­ca­tion na­tion­wide de­pend­ing on num­bers. Check it out on our web­page: http://­fer/training/#health-and-safety.

Our Nel­son con­sul­tants Greg and Mike (orange hi vis vests) dis­cuss health and safety with an or­chardist.

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