Hazard information for farms

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Hazards on farms

The first step in risk management is to identify workplace hazards. This means looking for those things that have the potential to cause harm. Harm can be short or long term and may adversely affect the health and safety of workers, property, the environment, and community relationships.

Hazards can be identified through one or more of the following activities:

  • routine hazard and housekeeping inspections
  • information provided by manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and substances
  • investigation of incidents and accidents
  • accessing WorkSafe safety alerts, news bulletins and annual incident data reports
  • when introducing new equipment or processes, and changes to existing equipment or processes
  • as part of the review process for existing plans and procedures.

Once hazards have been identified, it is important that they are documented appropriately in order to manage the controls effectively over time.

The information provided below highlights the main hazards found on most farms. This list will be updated as new guidance becomes available.

Checklist

This checklist has been developed to provide information and assistance to employers, self-employed persons, persons having control of workplaces and employees working on farms.

Mobile plant

General

Tractor guides

  • Using tractors safely HSE – UK 01-2013
    This step-by-step guide provides information on staying safe while operating a tractor.
  • Safe use of a tractor with attachments - Working across borders
    The guidance will assist farmers to review their current farm machinery to ensure that the tractor and attachment is compatible and appropriate for specific farm jobs.
  • Guide: Safe tractor operation – Ag health 2009
    This document provide practical guidelines for employers and workers to improve and ensure the safety of those who use tractors on farms, and those who are in the vicinity of areas where tractors are being used.

Safe movement of vehicles checklist

  • Safe-movement of vehicle and mobile plant – self assessment tool – WorkSafe
    This self-assessment tool will assist in reviewing the effectiveness and adequacy of your existing risk management approach for vehicle and mobile plant traffic movements at your workplace. It will also help generate ideas and opportunities to improve your practices.
  • Guidelines: Safe use of tractors - NZ WorkSafe
    This guideline outlines potential hazards of using tractors on farms, and provides recommendations to eliminate, isolate and minimise those hazards.

Guarding of plant

  • Code of practice: Managing risks of plant in the workplace Work Health and Safety Commission
    This code of practice provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with managing risks of plant in the workplace.
  • Guide: Guarding grain augers November 2008
    This guide provides farmers with practical information to build and retrofit a guard to older grain augers, improving safety of those people handling grain and using grain augers.
  • Get Grain Safe – WorkSafe NSW
    This checklist aims to minimise risks associated with the use of silos, augers, field bins, chaser bins and bulk handling equipment used on farms. Field bins are also referred to as transportable or portable silos.
  • Checklist: Isolation of plant/lockout tag-out - WorkSafe
    Use this checklist as an aid to ensure safety or workers when the function or condition of plant is impaired
  • Guide for managing the risks of machinery in rural workplaces – Safe Work Australia
    This guide provides information on how to manage the risks of machinery, vehicles and other types of plant used in rural workplaces.

Chemicals

Manual tasks

  • Code of practice: Hazardous manual tasks Work Health and Safety Commission
    This Code applies to all workplaces covered by the WHS Act where hazardous manual tasks are carried out and provides practical guidance to PCBUs on how to manage health and safety risks associated with musculoskeletal disorders arising from hazardous manual tasks in the workplace.

Falls from heights

Fatigue

  • Code of practice: Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers Work Health and Safety Commission
    The Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers code of practice provides practical guidance to industry on occupational safety and health regulations for driving commercial vehicles. The regulations establish an operating standard for hours of work and rest and other requirements for the management of commercial vehicle operators fatigue.
  • Commercial vehicle driver fatigue management training
    "The purpose of this training is designed to help commercial vehicle drivers and managers/supervisors understand the impact of fatigue and the strategies to prevent fatigue from driving commercial vehicles. Both drivers and management have a role to play in making sure any risks associated with fatigue are minimised.

Electricity

  • Private power poles and lines Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Building and Energy
    This guide explains the requirements for private power lines which transport electricity from the main switchboard and meter to your home or other buildings.
  • Working safely around electricity - farming Western Power
    This factsheet provides information about how to conduct your work to ensure you, your workmates and the community remain safe and the power remains on.

Other hazards

First aid/emergency preparation

  • Code of practice: First aid in the workplace Work Health and Safety Commission
    This code of practice provides practical guidance on how to effectively provide first aid in the workplace. It includes information on first aid kits, procedures, facilities and training for first aiders.

Confined spaces

  • Code of practice: Confined spaces Work Health and Safety Commission
    This code of practice provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with work carried out in a confined space.

Noise

Quad bikes and side by side vehicles

  • Guide: Quad bikes in workplaces WorkSafe 2021
    Quad bikes in workplaces guide outlines the legal requirements for those operating or in charge of workplaces where quad bikes are used and will assist riders, as well as managers, to ensure they are operated safely.
    This guide has been updated to reflect the changes in relation to the control of rollover and recognised need for helmets to be worn during quad bike use on private land. It should be read in conjunction with the operator manual for the specific quad bike used.
  • Quad bikes: SafeWork South Australia
    This webpage includes injury and fatality statistic relating to quad bikes, how to select a safe quad bike and safety solutions.
  • Information sheet: Reducing the risk when using side-by-side vehicles
    This information sheet provides information for workers and others who operate side-by-side vehicles.
  • Quad bike safety – poster 
    This poster is for those operating or in charge of workplaces where quad bikes are used and will assist riders, as well as managers, to ensure they are operated safely. 

Child safety

  • A parent’s guide to Kidsafe farms Kidsafe Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia Western Australia, Department of Health
    This booklet covers safety around machinery and vehicles, hazardous chemicals, animals, quad bikes and many other farm hazards. It also features a Farm Safety Checklist to assist people to identify hazards on the farm and steps to reduce the risk of injuries from these Kids on farms – Tips to help kids safe on farms Kidsafe Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia, NRMA.
  • Child Safety on Farms A practical guide Farmsafe Australia Inc
    Practical guidelines for employers and workers to improve and ensure the safety of children on Australian farms.

Environmental hazards

  • Working safely in hot conditions WorkSafe – last updated 2020
    This webpage provides guidance on working safely in hot conditions.
  • Code of practice: Managing the work environment and facilities Work Health and Safety Commission
    This code of practice provides practical guidance to PCBUs on how to effectively provide first aid in the workplace. It includes information on first aid kits, procedures, facilities and training for first aiders.

Workplace behaviours

  • Code of practice: Violence and aggression at work Work Health and Safety Commission
    The Violence and aggression at work code of practice focuses on the general principles applied to the prevention and management of violence and aggression in the workplace. The intent of this code is to provide practical guidance for workplaces where people may be exposed to various forms of violence and aggression at work, including physical assault, sexual assault, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation and harassment, including sexual harassment.
  • Code of practice: Workplace behaviour Work Health and Safety Commission
    The Workplace behaviour Code of practice focuses on the general principles applied to the prevention and management of inappropriate or unreasonable behaviour in the workplace. The intent of the Workplace behaviour Code of practice is to provide practical guidance for workplaces where people may be exposed to various forms of inappropriate or unreasonable workplace behaviour including bullying, harassment, violence and aggression, discrimination and misconduct.
  • Code of practice: Psychosocial hazards in the workplace Work Health and Safety Commission
    The Psychosocial hazards in the workplace code of practice focuses on the general principles applied to the prevention and management of psychosocial hazards in the workplace. The intent of this code is to provide practical guidance for workplaces where workers may be exposed to psychological and social hazards such as inappropriate behaviours, violence and aggression, and fatigue, stress and trauma, which can be harmful to their health.

Asbestos

  • Code of practice: How to manage and control asbestos in the workplace Work Health and Safety Commission
    This code of practice provides practical guidance on how to manage risks associated with asbestos, asbestos containing material (ACM) and asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD) at the workplace and thereby minimise the incidence of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. This code of practice should be read in conjunction with the WHS transitional arrangements.
  • Checklist Asbestos management WorkSafe

New and young workers

  • SmartMove WorkSafe
    WorkSafe SmartMove is a work health and safety (WHS*) online educational program for senior high school students, young workers entering the workforce on work placement, work experience, or as school-based trainee/apprentice, and new workers entering the workforce for the first time. SmartMove is also designed for young people who are entering casual or part-time work on their free time and those who work on seasonal jobs.

Dangerous goods

  • Safe storage and handling of dangerous goods on farms Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – Dangerous goods
    This web page includes information on recognising, storing, and handling and disposing of dangerous goods.
  • Safe storage and handling of dangerous goods on farms Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – Dangerous goods
    This brochure includes information on recognising, storing, and handling and disposing of dangerous goods.
  • Stay safe when storing diesel in polyethylene tanks Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety – Dangerous goods 
    This information sheet is intended for farmers and their workers, to highlight the importance of storing diesel safely and correctly.

Working alone

  • Guidance note: Working alone WorkSafe 2009
    This guidance note provides guidance for employers and workers on the management of safety and health hazards and risks that may arise in relation to hazards that arise from working alone.

Zoonoses

  • Zoonoses on farms - checklist
    This checklist has been developed to help minimise the risks to workers that may be exposed to zoonoses at work.
     
  • Zoonoses on farms - Information sheet 
    This information sheet provides an overview of zoonoses, control measures to reduce the risk of infection and the reporting to WorkSafe certain occupational zoonose.

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