New Health & Safety rules affect farmers

Date: 7th February 2015

New legislation for workplace health and safety is likely to be introduced later this year, as part of a government effort to reduce workplace death and injuries by 25 percent in 2020. The Health and Safety Reform Bill clarifies current responsibilities and reinforces that everyone has a duty to keep workplaces safe and healthy.

The new law introduces the concept of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (a PCBU).  The PCBU has the primary duty for health and safety in the workplace as they carry out the business or undertaking. Despite its name, a PCBU will usually be a business entity, such as a farm. A person might also be a PCBU if they are a sole trader or self-employed.

WorkSafe New Zealand regulates workplace health and safety and is charged with achieving the 25 percent reduction in death and serious injuries at work. Based on 2008-2013 information, this would mean annual reductions within agriculture of 5500 ACC claims, four less deaths and 55,000 less days off work.

Safer Farms

safety on farms

For farmers, a Safer Farms programme launched in February provides simple resources for setting up health and safety systems on-farm.

“Safer Farms has been developed with industry input and is about working with farmers and rural communities to take ownership of health and safety on farms, and develop practical solutions,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe New Zealand agriculture programme manager.

“It will support farmers to manage their safety performance, build farm safety leadership and maintain regulatory pressure.”

“To meet that target, every employer and worker needs to have a work safety mindset. The incident rate in the dairy industry is the highest in the agricultural sector. Each year, one in five people working in dairy need medical treatment because of a workplace incident.”

How will the new law affect farmers?

  • As a PCBU, farmers will have the primary duty to ensure the safety of all workers on their farms (direct employees, contractors or trainees).
  • Farm workers should have clear duties to keep themselves and other workers safe.
  • When another supplier or business is working on a farm, each is a PCBU (as is the farmer). All PCBUs will have to work together to manage the health and safety of everyone working on the farm.
  • The farmer’s duty is to ensure the health and safety guidelines are more explicit for others who come onto the farm. These ‘others’ also have a duty to follow any reasonable instructions from the farmer.
  • There are also duties on manufacturers and suppliers. If faulty equipment has caused an accident, there is a strong likelihood the manufacturer and supplier would be investigated

More information

For information about the reform bill go to WorkSafe NZ.

For information on making your farm a safer place for everyone visit Safer Farms.

More about Health and Safety in the workplace:

Managing health and safety in your business



Posted in: Alexandra, Christchurch, Latest News, Queenstown, Wanaka