Southland Times

A recent court case in Southland provides a stark reminder of how important it is for rural contractors and farmers to ensure machinery is properly maintained and serviced as part of our commitment to improving health and safety on farms.

A lack of effective repairs to a tractor saw Gore’s Agricentre South Limited ordered by a court to pay a fine of $239,063, on top of reparations of $103,459 already awarded to a farm worker who was run over and badly injured by a tractor which suffered brake failure during a trial of the tractor by a local farmer.

Think of the consequences for a small business or farm if they faced a third of a million dollars in payouts because of a catastrophic health and safety failure, let alone causing harm to someone.

The implications are clear for any one works on farms – or for farmers themselves.

Maintenance schedules for machinery need to be observed to ensure these are done properly. The consequences of doing a rushed dodgy job or fitting an inappropriate part are not worth it.

No one ever sets out to allow someone to be maimed or worse while operating a piece of machinery but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest some in the  rural sector can still be pretty gung ho when it comes to taking all the appropriate – practicable in the health and safety lingo – steps to ensure accidents don’t happen.

None of us wants to carry the responsibility for failing to avoid a serious injury to another human being.

A recent issue of the Farmlander publication used its first dozen pages to run various stories on health and safety.  CEO Peter Reidie intros the articles saying for health and safety outcomes to change in rural NZ we all have to change.  Nicole Rosie, Chief Executive of WorkSafe urges farming communities to speak up about our sector’s health and safety performance. She was supported by Fed Farmers president Katie Milne about H+S never being a popular topic on farms but it needed the same priority as any other part of the business. That extends to properly maintaining our machinery.

The publication also outlines the SafeVisit app, developed by FarmIQ which you can download on your phone. Apps which allows a farm owner to provide a map of their farm, any known hazards, the times and dates when visits are best and other information are very useful to people such as rural contractors especially during busy periods like hay and sileage making.

Contractors employ a lot of seasonal labour, some of it from overseas, so they need new tools to cater for that and to ensure they are kept safe.