How do you feel about farming’s new proposed health and safety regulations?
If you were a visitor at this year's National Agricultural Fieldays, you may well have spoken with fellow farmers about the latest health and safety laws regarding the farming profession. Indeed, the proposed terms appear to have split New Zealand's farmers into several distinct camps, each having their own opinion on the Health and Safety Reform Bill and how it could affect their business.
However, Taranaki legal firm Govett Quilliam have nailed their colours to the mast and stated that some beef and dairy farmers are so incensed at the new ruling that they are now thinking about giving up the profession – but are things that bad?
Harm on the farm?
Health and safety regulations are nothing new, and they are put into place for good reason. This is because farms can be dangerous places if proper precautions and guidelines are not adhered to. Heavy fines can be charged to farmers who run an unsafe workplace which, of course, can stretch out over many hectares.
The penalties aren't simply financial, however. According to WorkSafe NZ, an organisation formed to promote health and safety at work, 20 people sadly died on New Zealand's farms throughout 2014. This harrowing figure means that there are more agricultural workers killed than in any other of New Zealand's industries, so it's easy to see why such stringent laws are in place. So how are farmers bearing up?
Some beef and dairy farmers are so incensed at the new ruling that they are now thinking about giving up the profession.
"Older farmers are finding it hard, but younger ones are taking it on board," said farming consultant Margaret Steiner-Joyce, of Govett Quilliam Lawyers, to Stuff.
One of the biggest aspects worrying farmers was how to correctly manage contractors working on their farm – employees who may not know the lay of the land or how to handle certain pieces of machinery, as permanent staff may do.
Ms Steiner-Joyce further noted that she would advise worried farmers to approach the companies that aided them in creating health and safety guidelines in the first place. She also stated WorkSafe NZ was also doing its best assist farmers, which is a step in the right direction.
On the subject of safety, John Burling, owner of Carac Couplings, revealed an intriguing new product at the event that would help stop diggers with rubber tracks sliding in the wet. This device is bound to be a big hit, as Mr Burling is a former winner of a Fieldays innovation award for Trackgrip – an invention devised for steel-tracked machinery. A great raft of other farming gear was on show, too.
How up-to-date are your healthy and safety measures?