Innovations to improve Australian farm safety
Online safety training now more accessible
WHAT do you get when you cross a recent Farmer of the Year with the current Beef Achiever of the Year?
Likely, a huge amount of knowledge, drive and talent going into whatever they come up with.
In this case, it’s been a commitment to developing a first-of-its-kind safety tool for broad application across farming sectors.
What began life as a video-based online interactive safety induction program being developed for Palgrove properties soon gained the involvement of OBE Organics and steered by the people leading the two companies, respectively, Prue and David Bondfield and Dalene Wray.
The outcome has been a broader, pay-per-use safety induction platform that is suited to producers of all sizes, suitable for use by employees, family farms, even potentially for visitors.
Palgrove general manager Prue Bondfield said the result and its potential benefits for agriculture were satisfying.
“No producer wants their workers injured when they set off for the day,” she said.
“Sometimes, those injuries occur because employers assume that all staff understand the basics of working safely on the land. It’s an assumption we should never make.
“Prior to developing the online induction for our own business, Palgrove had spent a lot of time trying to work out a better system for making sure that all employees were provided with the same level of knowledge of workplace safety coming on to our properties.
“The opportunity to share Palgrove’s solution with the industry will hopefully provide a place for others to start the conversation about farm safety with their staff.”
OBE Organics chief executive Dalene Wray has established a clear reputation as an industry leader with a strong commitment to ethical processes, so it is unsurprising that she should want to see this tool become broadly used.
That commitment comes from a long connection to the country.
“My family are cattle producers from Western Queensland and my father was one of the founders of OBE Organics back in about 1994 – David Brook, from Birdsville,” Ms Wray said.
“I’ve stayed connected to country and I’ve been with OBE over a decade now. As
I’ve worked up through the ranks at OBE, I have become more aware that you have obligations around workplace health and safety.
“Our family operates properties in some very remote parts of Australia and they hire many staff and have limited access to professional development and resources way out where they operate.
“I see these types of tools as beneficial for those types of operators, that can’t come to town for training and there’s no training offered in that part of the world. This is one way we can cover that gap.”
Ms Wray sees there is a range of measures that need consideration around building a stronger safety culture in agriculture.
“I think many things that happen from a WHS point of
view are preventable and it’s quite nuanced, the solutions that are needed to solve this problem – we can have legislation, we can have training and we can have both and people are still going to get injured and die in the workplace and in agriculture in Australia,” she said.
“I think we are going to need to continue championing solutions like these.
“We need to continue to challenge industry to come up with more solutions, better solutions and improve the solutions we’ve already got.
“This is a tool that didn’t exist. I think it’s an important step in the right direction.”
This story is the third in a c four-part series sponsored by the Queensland Government Office of Industrial Relations.
STARTING POINT: Prue and David Bondfield, of Palgrove, see using an induction process as a good starting point for safety on farms.