25 Feb 2015

Positive feedback to safety campaign

2:04 pm on 25 February 2015

Leaders in the agricultural community say farmers are responding positively to the Government safety programme aimed at changing their attitudes towards health and safety.

The six year programme, Safer Farms, has been launched in 15 regions over the past month.

It is a collaboration between WorkSafe, ACC and farming industry bodies and has been designed with help from farmers.

Michael Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A launch was held in Wellington this morning where Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Woodhouse addressed about 30 leaders in the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

"Today 60 farm workers are going to go to work and they're going to injure themselves, and a dozen of them will injure themselves severely enough to require time off work, rehabilitation, surgery, or some other entitlement from ACC.

"And at some point in the next fortnight, someone working on a farm is going to go to work and not come home, and if we don't do something about that, that is going to continue every day this year and more than 21,000 farm workers will injure themselves."

Mr Woodhouse said Safer Farms will require leaders in the sector to help bring behavioural change.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne said most people see Safer Farms in a positive light because of the awareness and education components.

She said from the beginning, people were keen to know how it was going to work.

"I had a lot of feedback pre the launches in each area, people were ringing and provincial presidents were ringing wondering what it was really about, what their role was really going to entail and how they should handle it."

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ms Milne said industry organisations are putting plans in place on how they will get information out to farmers to encourage attitude changes.

WorkSafe's agricultural programme manager, Al McCone, has been to most of the launches and said farmers have shown their approval.

"Most of them nod and they say 'yep, we can see where you're going, like it', they want the help to develop the right systems, there are a few that are not as keen to be examined by WorkSafe, but that's not what we want to do.

"We'd rather go onto a farm and talk to people about their management systems and not have to issue any warning notices or things like that. No one wants to ruin the farming lifestyle, no one wants to make onerous extra work for farmers, just like we don't want to do that for any business, the whole idea is let's just make them safer places to work."

Mr McCone said one of the first sessions will be held at the Northland fielddays, which is focused on making health and safety compliance easier to understand.

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