Thursday, November 30, 2023

It’s the talking keeps you safe

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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. Over seven weeks we are sharing profiles and short videos about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work.
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Over the 2017-18 winter FMG Young Farmer grand finalist Georgie Lindsay mapped all the hazards on the farm where she works as a shepherd and put them into FarmIQ. 

“That included the fact we have pylons running right through the farm, we’re on a main road so have to move stock across that sometimes and we are in steep hill country with tracks that can be hazardous and super dangerous if wet and slippery,” Lindsay, who is the first woman to hold the Young Farmer Tasman title, said.

“However, having the hazards mapped isn’t really enough. 

“For me, it is all about looking out for one another on the farm and about ongoing communication about safety. I feel very strongly about that.”

Lindsay grew up helping on her family’s sheep, beef and deer farm in central Southland. After getting an agricultural science honours degree from Lincoln University she did an internship with AgFirst in Feilding. She then took up a scholarship overseas, extending that to travel in Europe. 

Back in New Zealand she worked on a tailing gang then on a sheep and beef farm between Cheviot and Kaikoura before becoming a shepherd at Marble Point Station near Hanmer Springs. The property is 2400ha and runs 3600 ewes and 380 Angus breeding cows plus heifers.

“I grew up with health and safety being part of everything we did on farm,” she says. 

“It wasn’t formal back then but my parents are extremely safety conscious. There were constant conversations and awareness. They made sure we knew about the hazards and if we were doing a job we’d talk about doing it safely. 

“Just things like ‘don’t drive up that hill, it’s slippery’ or ‘keep well away from the moving parts on that’ or just letting us know about the potential dangers of working with animals. They made health and safety part of business as usual.”

Lindsay was introduced to more formal aspects of health and safety at university. 

“We did practical work every summer, ticking off different aspects of farming. I did lots of sheep and beef and some dairy. I found dairy farms tend to have strong health and safety processes in place. They provide very good inductions and are very clear on how they expected us to behave on-farm around health and safety.

“It was the same at AgFirst. There were clear expectations with very specific requirements for when we went on-farm, such as wearing our helmets even if the farmer didn’t and taking our own vehicles where possible.

At Marble Point the approach to safety is much like her parents’ approach. As well as having the hazards mapped, conversations about health and safety are ongoing. 

“We have conversations about how to mitigate the hazards. Things like, ‘take the bike rather than the truck on that track’. If something is essential we will work out the safe way to approach the job but the message is very much ‘If it isn’t safe and it’s non-essential then leave it until it can be done safely’.

“The tracks have just been graded to stop rain gouging them out and that makes a big difference.

“You need to take those steps, have your risks mapped and have your processes written down but you need to keep on having those conversations that will help to keep you safe.”

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