Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Adding value to the farm business through health and safety

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. During the next seven weeks we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to a veterinarian.

FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand finalist James Robertson gained first-hand experience of the impact an injury can have on a farm business when his father suffered an accident.

“He was kicked by a cow and broke his thumb,” says James, who grew up on his family’s dairy farm near Mystery Creek.

“I think I’d been a bit oblivious to health and safety as a young person but I really saw the implications an injury has on the business. He wasn’t able to work in the cattle shed for a few weeks. Having a key person not able to do that put a lot of pressure on everyone else.”

James, who won the 2019 FMG Young Farmer Northern regional final, has a Bachelor of AgriCommerce from Massey University in Palmerston North. He was very active in the university’s Young Farmers organisation and says that helping organise health and safety for club events gave him a new perspective.

“It wasn’t just if we were going on farm for a practical farming day, but also for things like social events. It made me very aware of the importance of identifying the risks and planning how to mitigate them,” he says.

“That’s a huge thing. We were a big group, we did not want anyone to get hurt and there are implications for your organisation if someone does get hurt. There’s the human perspective and the business perspective of health and safety. That really raised my awareness, that it’s about a lot more than chainsaws and motorbikes.”

Going on to join Fonterra’s business graduate programme – which involves six month stints working across different parts of the business, has further reinforced that awareness.

“On my first day at Fonterra, we had a presentation on health and safety as part of our induction. And they provided real life examples of what can happen.

“There are lots of different aspects to what we do - from our farmers, to tanker drivers to those turning our dairy into world class products.

“Exposure to different parts of the business has really opened my eyes to how we need an embedded health and safety culture – whether you are at a desk, in a factory, on the farm or somewhere in between.”

Currently based in Auckland for work, James is now a member of Auckland City Young Farmers and still enjoys getting home to help his parents, who now farm some lease blocks near Hamilton.

“After Dad’s accident, we started looking at health and safety differently. We have a hazard register and we always talk with our contractors before they come on farm, even if they know the place well, to talk about any risks or obstructions. You need to let people know – because just because you are aware of a risk doesn’t mean everyone else is.

“Time had been a factor in the accident, so we also started to recognise the dangers of fatigue. Before, there was a sense that you hadn’t done enough work if you didn’t get home exhausted. But we started focusing instead on doing things right and doing things well, without putting ourselves at risk. I think a lot of farmers cover off processes and procedures and PPE but forget about managing fatigue.”

Vehicle safety is also a key focus for James.

“While I was a student, I spent two summers working for a contractor in the King Country and that really instilled in me the importance of choosing the right vehicle for the job and the terrain and pre-driving inspection – things like checking the tread on tyres. I’m really big on that.

“It’s pretty simple really. Think about the job you are going to do, think about the risks and how you will manage them, make sure you have the right gear and that it’s in good condition – and manage your fatigue. Good health and safety doesn’t take a lot of time but, in the long run, healthy and safe staff add value to your business.”

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Frog Recruitment: Kiwi Workers Reluctant To Make Business Trips Across The Ditch Despite Trans-Tasman Bubble Opening

When the trans-Tasman travel bubble opens today, many Kiwi companies won't be rushing to buy an air ticket, reluctant to cross the ditch to do business. The latest survey conducted by leading recruitment agency, Frog Recruitment of nearly 1,000 New Zealand ... More>>

Tourism: Employers Welcome Back Working Holidaymakers

Tourism businesses gearing up for the return of Australian visitors from next week will be relieved to learn that they will also have access to an offshore pool of much-needed job candidates, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says. Tourism employers around ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Latest Broadband Report Confirms Improved Performance Of Premium Fibre Plans

The latest report from the Commerce Commission’s Measuring Broadband New Zealand programme shows that the performance of Fibre Max plans has improved substantially. This follows a collaboration between the Commission, its independent testing partner, ... More>>

Air New Zealand: Capital Raise Deferred

Air New Zealand has decided to defer its planned capital raise to later in 2021 allowing more time to assess the impacts of recent developments on the airline’s path to recovery. 'We’ve seen some clearing of COVID-19 clouds recently, with ... More>>

Stats NZ: Prices For Transport And Housing Rise In March 2021 Quarter

Higher prices for transport and housing led to a 0.8 percent lift in the consumers price index in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. Prices for getting around rose in the March quarter. Transport prices rose 3.9 percent, the biggest quarterly ... More>>

Stats NZ: New Report Shows Impact Of Demands On Land In New Zealand

A new environmental report released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, presents new data on New Zealand’s land cover, soil quality, and land fragmentation. The land cover data in the report, Our land 2021 , provides the most ... More>>


Stats NZ: March Card Spending Rebounds Despite COVID

There was a lift in retail card spending in March following a fall in the lockdown-disrupted February month, Stats NZ said today. Seasonally adjusted retail card spending rose by $53 million (0.9 percent), compared with February 2021. Visit our website to read ... More>>