Looking for mosquitoes – not just the tigers

In the jungle, more people are killed by mosquitoes than by tigers. This is an adage that Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Director Andrew Morrison carries with him when assessing the health and safety risks on his Southland sheep and beef farming operation.
Tuesday, 19 September 2017

There are far more injuries caused by farm accidents than there are fatalities. While it is easier to identify the factors than can be life-threatening, it is the small, everyday activities that pose the greatest risk of injuries – and these can be life-changing.

Andrew and his wife Lisa own two farms; a 150ha intensive sheep operation near Gore and a 890ha rolling pasture and improved tussock property near Clinton.

As Andrew is heavily involved in governance roles within the rural sector, he is acutely aware of the focus the rural sector puts on health and safety.

“People are highly valued by the organisations I work with, so it’s crucial we have the processes and culture in place to create a safe work environment.”

Applying this philosophy to their own farm business, Lisa and Andrew worked alongside their farm manager Tim to formalise health and safety processes.

They invited a neighbour along on a farm tour to identify hazards.

“It was a very good experience having several different sets of eyes as we all saw things differently.

We drew up a hazard map together and used different colour highlighter pens to mark-up hazards.”

This hazard map is an ever-evolving document and is added to every time a new hazard is identified.

The couple has invested in equipment such as a winch for dead stock, new cattle-crushes, new tyres on old tractors and a side-by-side vehicle that make every-day farm activities safer. But they have also implemented policies around vehicle maintenance and chainsaw safety that have become ingrained in the farm culture.

B+LNZ run Farm Safety Systems workshops and Andrew says these build on policies that farmers already have in place.

“it’s really about continuing to make health and safety part of business-as-usual.”

Andrew acknowledges that farmers are busy and while changes to the workplace health and safety might seem overwhelming, it’s about breaking it down to do-ables.

He says a lot of what they are doing on-farm is not that different to what they have always done.

“It’s about encouraging people to take a few minutes, to stop and reflect and look at the safest option and reduce the risk of making those bad choices.

Have I got it nailed? No – but we are working hard at learning. It’s about direction not perfection.”

Watch Andrew talk health and safety with former All Black Richard Loe here