• Date: 13 Nov 2016
  • Categories: WH&S

The saying ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ can have life-threatening consequences, especially at busy farming & transport operations. Fatigue, distraction & heat issues need to be managed with good processes says Turf Accreditation organisation AusGAP.

Turfgrowers and Lawn Solutions members are being advised to review their safety systems and machine guarding as the season intensifies and business increases around the country with the run-in to Christmas.

After visiting a number of turf farms recently, AusGAP Inspection Manager Nick Dorney says that even though businesses may have stringent Work, Health and Safety practices in place, everyone should take the time to talk through safety measures and how they fit with their day-to-day operations, especially into these busier periods.

“Whether you’re a small-or-large turf grower, a retail-centre, employer, contractor or employee, it doesn’t matter; everyone in the workplace has safety obligations that must be taken seriously.  It’s important that safety remains uppermost in everyone’s mind, even when you’re flat-out,” stresses Mr Dorney.

Recent industry trends have led to increased automation and greater use of auto-stack harvesting machines, but if not properly maintained, operated or guarded, such machines have proven to be dangerous.

Last year, in excess of 2000 hectares of turf was harvested, delivered and often installed by AusGAP accredited Turfgrowers, the bulk of that over the busier spring and summer periods.

“As farms move into this sometimes hectic period it’s timely to remind workplaces with machinery to review their safety processes and ensure all hazards are identified and either removed or controlled to ensure safety at all times,” notes Dorney.

With hot conditions and a sometimes higher proportion of casual workers, he also stressed the need for employers to be vigilant about safe-work-practices, training and inductions, as well as access to amenities and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

“Businesses involved in the turf industry can be working long hours over a period of many weeks or months in all kinds of weather conditions to service what can be extremely high demand at this time of the year,” Dorney said.

“With this increase in activity, both employers and employees must be even more vigilant to ensure the health and safety of all workers in the operation.

“Injuries from poor manual handling are an ongoing issue across all industries and Turfgrowers are certainly not immune,” says Dorney. “Operators need to be conscious of loads to be carried and lifted, the operation of machinery in their vicinity and the risk of slips, trips and falls on uneven surfaces.”

“Cuts and lacerations are a constant danger with the involvement of hand tools, along with the risk of exposure to sun and heat, so proper PPE and access to water, rest areas and toilets are also vital.

“Casual Staff at this time of year are often younger workers or new to the industry, so employers should have robust induction processes in place to ensure the safety of those workers. Do not assume they are either aware of; or can recognise known hazards,” warned Dorney.

“Even in such busy times it’s important to review Workplace Safety Procedures and further comprehensive information can be found in the AusGAP manuals or by contacting AusGAP to find out where best to go for more comprehensive workplace safety information,” he added.

AusGAP’s Top 10 Turfgrower Safety Tips:

  • Ensure each item of plant is maintained and only operated by a competent person.
  • Ensure all workers receive instruction and training on the work they are to be involved in and that a register of training and induction records is maintained on
  • Consult with workers and prepare a program with suitable rest breaks depending on factors such as weather conditions. Suitable rest breaks and hydration are important factors in managing fatigue and heat stress.
  • Ensure workers have proper PPE . . . Safety boots, a broad brimmed hat, sun screen, safety glasses / goggles and gloves and Hi- Vis gear for those working around vehicles and machinery.
  • Ensure an effective communication system between plant operators, transport contractors and ground staff.
  • Ensure adequate lighting and visibility for anyone working at night. Be seen. Be safe!
  • Conduct induction training for staff and contractors – be mindful of younger and newly started employees.
  • Be wary with moving plant and machinery and to eliminate or minimise manual handling and crushing hazards.
  • Reduce the hazard of slips trips and falls by maintaining good housekeeping practices.
  • Use three points of contact when exiting large vehicles, plant and stairs.

Further information available from AusGAP at:

Ph. 1300 287 599
Email: administration@Ausgap.com.au

Nick Dorney direct on Mobile: 0420 418 744
or Email: nick@ausgap.com.au