Fiona Simson from National Farmers Federation shares her safety insights
President of the National Farmer’s Federation (NFF), Fiona Simson, is one busy woman with a world of farming wisdom under her belt.
Not only is she the first female president of the NFF, she is also a farmer from Liverpool Plains in NSW, where she, husband Ed and family run a mixed farming enterprise including broad acre farming and breeding commercial poll Hereford cattle.
Having worked on her own farm for many years, Fiona has accumulated valuable insights on how to conduct farm work safely.
Here are four tips on how stay safe when working on farms:
Conducting safety checks before all farming jobs and having safety procedures in place is critical.
For Fiona, having safety procedures and policies in place is a start, however, to ensure farmers are doing the work on the safest terms these safety procedures must be implemented by all farm workers.
“Everybody has to be aware of the safety procedures that you have on a farm, then everybody has to follow them, leading by example is important,” Fiona said.
Machines and vehicles can be extremely hazardous to farmers. Tractors without roll-over protection structures (ROPS), power take-off (PTO) shafts, chainsaws, augers, motorbikes, two-wheel and quad bikes and utes all pose risks if they aren’t maintained correctly.
Fiona says it is imperative to give machines and vehicles regular maintenance to ensure they are working to the best of their ability.
“Machinery must also be fully compliant with all of the safety requirements, such as guarding, and conducting regular maintenance services is a key part of being a responsible farmer. You have to make sure your equipment is as good as you can have it,” Fiona said.
In Australia, it is common to have overseas unskilled workers on visas working on farms. Fiona says it is crucial that these workers, and indeed all workers, be provided with safety inductions before they start.
“People need to be briefed really well and shown how to do things, sometimes you have to spell out what you might think is quite an obvious way of doing something because if somebody’s never been around animals or never worked machinery before then they won’t know what to do,” Fiona said.
Work in pairs
To prevent injuries and accidents from occurring when working on the farm, Fiona suggests wherever possible farmers should work with another person or at least have a working communication device on them.
“If we have lone workers on our farm we make sure they have a two-way radio on them, however, generally working with another is much safer then working on your own,” Fiona said.
The bottom line is…
Health and safety whilst working doesn’t need to be complicated – you can make it simple and practical, tailored to meet the needs of your farm. Sometimes it is as simple as thinking about risks before doing tasks.
“Think before you do things and make sure that you’re doing it as safely as you possibly can. Don’t take risks because your life is too important,” Fiona says.