The Victorian Farmers Federation Making Our Farms Safer (MOFS) initiative offers free occupational health and safety (OHS) consultancies and audits to provide farmers with practical information and advice about improving farm safety.
Our farm safety advisors are some of the best in the industry, with broad ranging experience and a real passion to assist you to make your farm safer in the most practical way.
But apart from doing as much as we can to practically improve the safety outcomes in the industry by visiting farms across Victoria, one of the key objectives of the MOFS project is to influence the culture of the industry.
We have to move to a point where farmers are no longer re-telling the story of the farm worker they knew that was killed or seriously injured.
We are confident that the vast majority of farmers honestly and sincerely believe that they do provide a safe workplace for themselves and their employees. But often, when we dive deeper in to those discussions, we find there are legal requirement knowledge gaps and everyday hazards that farmers have simply become accustomed to working with.
We want to share and address those common statements with you, not to offend, but to welcome you to join us on our journey to keep Victorian farmers safe.
"OHS is hard to keep up with as it is changing all the time."
This statement is often made without direct knowledge of the laws or the updates. Victoria's OHS Act and Regulations have only been amended on a handful of occasions and legal expectations have remained fairly consistent since 2004.
"If we did everything that we had to do to manage safety on our farm we would not get anything else done!"
During our farm safety consults, we provide farmers with free OHS resources, practical advice and a simple plan to follow. OHS does not need to be overly time consuming or expensive. This will save you time and money in the long term.
"We do try to make sure that our farm is safe, but there is always room for improvement."
A clear concession that the farmer is instinctively managing safety but often without knowledge or understanding of what is legally expected and without certainty of whether there are hazards present.
"OHS is just common sense."
Unfortunately, in the event of an accident, farmers would not be able to defend themselves on this basis. Employers are expected to know what their OHS duties are.
"Surely we can't be held liable if our employees do something stupid."
Whilst employees also have duties under OHS law, in the event of an accident questions will still be asked as to whether the employer met their duties.
"We have had WorkSafe out and therefore we are confident that our workplace is safe."
Some farmers gain a false sense of security that their workplace is safe on the back of a visit from an Inspector. It is not the responsibility of WorkSafe Inspectors to consult on OHS duties and many hazards are often unidentified.
"The industry is inherently dangerous; accidents are inevitable."
Research shows that many of the fatalities that have occurred on farm were easily preventable.
"We will get someone in to talk with us one day."
There is no better time than when advice, delivered to your farm free of charge, is available. Continuously putting it off could be disastrous.
We have to work together to change the culture and thinking on health and safety throughout the industry and the statements above are but a handful that we hear commonly.
We have to defeat these myths together. We have to move to a point where farmers are no longer re-telling the story of the farm worker they knew that was killed or seriously injured but instead talking about how we made our farms safer.
If you can relate to one of these statements, please call us at the Victorian Farmers Federation on 1300 883 833 to arrange a free visit to your farm. Find out more about the Making Our Farms Safer program here.
John Darcy is the Victorian Farmers Federation's Making Our Farms Safer Senior Farm Advisor.