B+LNZ pleased with health and safety changes

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says sheep and beef farmers will be pleased to hear that most farms are not going to be classed as high risk work places and won’t have to have a health and safety representative, following changes to New Zealand’s proposed Health and Safety Reform Bill.

Responding to suggestions that farmers are getting getting off lightly, B+LNZ chairman James Parsons said sheep and beef farms average fewer than two full time employees per farm.

“Can you imagine the farm manager and the shepherd standing on a hill and electing the health and safety representative? Not classifying farms as high risk doesn’t exempt farm businesses from any liability under the Health and Safety Reform Bill. But the amendment does recognise some basic practicalities of implementing the legislation on farms.”

B+LNZ along with Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and farmers has actively engaged with the Government and WorkSafe New Zealand to help build a better understanding of the context and issues of farming.

“Few people realise that farms have 110,000 workers managing over half of New Zealand’s estate. When you include families that live on these farms coupled with numerous visitors it’s hard to eliminate every accident. However, as an industry organisation we have said to the Government we will take responsibility for improving our safety record, so work with us please.

“We’re all on the same page when it comes to reducing farm fatalities and accidents so along with other organisations in the sector, we’ve been working closely with Government Ministers and officials to find workable rules that deliver that outcome.”

Parsons said the Government was to be congratulated for taking the special nature of farms into account and that B+LNZ would be playing its part by supporting farmers to engage with good health and safety practices.

“Most farmers are already on-board with taking responsibility for making their farms a safe workplace as it’s part of their everyday practices – just like their responsibilities to the environment and being good stewards of the land.”

Parsons, who is in the middle of a series of roadshow meetings around New Zealand for the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum, said the health and safety regulations were a hot topic at many of the meetings and farmers would be pleased to hear about the proposed changes to the Bill.

“There are still many areas we need to keep working on with officials, particularly regarding quad bikes. Current WorkSafe New Zealand interpretations where passengers are supposedly not allowed in many cases creates more risk rather than less. This is the case if it means an inexperienced rider needs to operate their own quad bike rather than ride safely with an experienced rider who knows the farm and its hazards.”

Supplied by B+LNZ Ltd.

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