Farmer sets safety example

21 Sep, 2018 04:00 AM
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Rachael Napier says every farm should have a dedicated farm safety plan.
Every day is a different day on the farm; we just have to make sure they're all safe.
Rachael Napier says every farm should have a dedicated farm safety plan.

Helping to develop a new dairy farm safety program has inspired Rachael Napier to think about her own farm safety.

It seems obvious now, but after attending a Farm Safety Manual workshop Ms Napier was quick to make an important change on the farm she shares with partner Craig Gallpen at Blighty in southern NSW.

"We had three quad bikes but no one wore helmets," Ms Napier said.

"I came home from the Farm Safety Manual workshop and that really bothered me. I had to start somewhere and that was the biggest hazard we hadn't addressed.

"We now have 100 per cent compliance from the staff."

Ms Napier and Mr Gallpen milk about 200 cows on 150 hectares between Finley and Deniliquin.

The farmers have an excellent safety record and aim to keep it that way, hoping to set a good example for all farmers.

Ms Napier is the region's farmer representative on Dairy Australia's planning group to develop the new farm safety program that gives farmers the tools they need to create a safe work environment. The industry is committed to leading the way in workplace safety and is determined to eliminate deaths and serious injuries.

Every dairy farm should have a dedicated farm safety plan and Ms Napier says it's a matter of common sense and following basic principles.

She said farmers needed to take responsibility for on-farm safety for themselves, their family and their staff.

"You need a plan with logical things like doing risk assessments on all potential hazards and being clear with staff about issues such as chemical hazards, safety in the dairy and using heavy machinery," she said.

Despite the obvious benefits, Ms Napier said there's still some reluctance to embrace safety plans.

She said she'd heard all the excuses, but the risk of ignoring safety plans was too great.

"Some farmers say it's going to take time, it won't happen to me, I only employ one person," she said.

"People don't want to engage because they fear they may have to change and it might be costly, but thankfully a lot of people are starting and finding it's easy.

"We haven't had a terrible accident on this farm but we know some who have, and it has been life-changing."

Ms Napier's interest in farm safety snowballed when she was employing backpackers.

"Not everyone understands English 100 per cent and you have to be quite clear about things," she said. "A lot of farmers have the same issue."

Ms Napier encourages all farmers to develop a Farm Safety Plan, especially with templates being readily available and easy to use.

"They're things we do anyway; it doesn't take long and we've got to think about it and make a record of it," she said.

She is actively involved in local farm discussion groups and has previously hosted a two-day workshop on quad bike safety.

"Every day is a different day on the farm; we just have to make sure they're all safe," Ms Napier said.D

Farmers can access the Farm Safety Starter Kit at www.dairyaustralia.com.au/farm/people/farm-safety.

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