Health and safety 'do’s and don'ts' for farmers

Navigating your way through the numerous rules and regulations of workplace health and safety can seem a daunting prospect, but labour consultants are there to guide you. Jeandré van der Walt spoke to a number of experts in the occupational health and safety industry about the key aspects of farmworker safety.

“Health and safety is a critical component that should be central to every business strategy.

After all, healthy workers are the heartbeat of any business,” says Jahni de Villiers, director at Labour Amplified. To this end, she adds, it is essential that employers adhere to the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act No. 85 of 1993.

The purpose of the act, as set out by the Department of Labour, is: “To provide for the health and safety of workers in connection with the use of plants and machinery; the protection of persons, other than those at work, against health and safety hazards arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work; to establish an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

Quoting the chief inspector of occupational health and safety at the Department of Labour, De Villiers says that compliance is only 45% to 55% across all sectors. Put another way, this means that at least one in two farmers is not compliant.

She advises that, as a first step towards compliance, a farmer draw up an assessment that outlines all the areas of risk in his or her operation.

“From this starting point, you can take steps to determine how you can hedge the risks that are within your control.”

She points out that if one gets stuck, there are labour consultants who can offer advice and assistance. Training, too, can play an important role, as it enables employees to understand what the health and safety implications are for the workplace and what their responsibilities are.

SOURCE:  Farmers Weekly