When it comes to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, communication is essential. The OH&S Act, the regulations and the policies all set the stage – but alone are ineffective without ongoing open dialogue with all members of your farm team.
Everyone you interact with on your farm will take cues from your leadership – if you make clear by your daily actions that everyone needs to keep safety top-of-mind when engaged in any task on the farm, your employees will follow suit.
This leadership requires regular and consistent conversations about workplace health and safety – making sure your employees are comfortable coming to you with concerns or ideas on how to make the workplace safer. Instead of making health and safety a separate conversation with your team, integrate safety into every team meeting, providing updates on equipment and safety techniques or using this time as an opportunity for safety training through guest speakers or simply watching an online video.
There are some things you are required through regulations to communicate and to provide your employees. The following information must be posted in an area that is easily accessible to your team and a place they visit often (i.e. lunchroom, staff room):
- A current copy of the Act and relevant regulations (available in your workbook).
- Information and reports recommended by an Occupational Health and Safety Officer.
- Relevant “Code of Practice”.
- Telephone number(s) to report workplace incidents.
- The Farm’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy.
- Any order, compliance notice, deviation, etc. issued by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
- Names and contact information for health and safety committee or representative.
- Committee meeting minutes, where one exists.
A check-list of the above requirements has been included in the workbook.
Additional information as applicable to the specific farm:
- Location of first-aid supplies.
- Emergency information – civic address & emergency phone numbers.
- Names of gasses stored in portable gas cylinders and signs prohibiting smoking around them.
- A hoist’s rated load, visible to the operator.
- Maximum revolutions per minute of an abrasive wheel or grinder.
- Placing “Danger – High Voltage” signage outside electrical rooms.
- Signs identifying confined spaces and any further information required at the time.
Every farm is different. Some farms may not have as frequent contact with their employees as other farms. Determine the best communication approaches for your unique workplace, talk to your team about how they best receive information, and where this information is most easily accessible.
The following diagram showcases some additional ways to keep the communication with employees consistent, open and ongoing.
A short meeting (5-10 minutes) at the beginning of each day to discuss the day’s task is an excellent method of communication. This will give employees an opportunity to ask questions or seek clarification of responsibilities. Alternatively, some farms host weekly staff meetings and incorporate safety as a regular agenda item.