11 December 2023
SafeWork NSW Inspectors will be visiting harvesting operations and grain receival businesses in the Riverina Murray region, to ensure employers are providing a safe working environment for their workers.
Inspectors will focus on various work health and safety priorities during their visit including working around vehicles and machinery, forklift operation, falls prevention, chemical safety, confined spaces, providing adequate facilities, and managing fatigue. They will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to serious safety breaches and issue penalty notices if required.
Seasonal workplaces have been identified as a priority area for SafeWork NSW in 2023, and the outcomes of this program will be shared with businesses to help drive continual improvement in workplace safety practices.
Agricultural businesses have a legal obligation to ensure safe systems are in place for workers, particularly during peak harvest periods. This may include proactively monitoring workers with regular phone calls or site visits.
Workers are particularly vulnerable when they are new to the industry or job, are young, or from a non-English speaking background. These workers should be supervised and supported while completing low or high-risk tasks to ensure they are competent and following correct procedures.
Considerations for vulnerable workers must be at the forefront of an employer's mind when tasking workers as part of their day-to-day employment.
Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin said:
“We understand that the end of the year brings an increased sense of urgency at agricultural plants across the state, however this is not an excuse for employers to forget the responsibilities they have to their workers.
“Twenty-four people have tragically lost their lives working on farms or doing work associated with farming in NSW since 2022. SafeWork NSW’s targeted compliance program is about working with agricultural businesses and workers to push this number down to zero.
“The important role that seasonal workers play in the agricultural sector is invaluable and we must ensure these workers are operating in the safest environment possible.”
MEDIA: firstname.lastname@example.org | 0438 108 797