Have horticulture safety covered this harvest season

Harvest is one of the busiest times for farmers, and with the challenges of a labour shortage, market fluctuations and COVID-19, it can be difficult to manage health and safety requirements.


WorkSafe and Agriculture Victoria, along with the Labour Hire Authority, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) are holding a series of webinars to assist growers in protecting themselves and their workers against OHS risks.

It's an opportunity for horticulture producers around Victoria to learn more about keeping farms safe, seasonal workforce support, COVID-19 employer obligations (including vaccination requirements), and the treatment of labour hire workers.

Attendees will also learn about WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program, which links small to medium businesses with independent consultants who offer free, confidential and tailored advice on how to improve health and safety in their workplace.

WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety, Narelle Beer encourages farmers to attend the webinars.

"The online sessions are a simple and interactive way to help farmers have safe and compliant harvests," she said.

"We never want to see tragedies in the workplace, and these webinars ensure farmers have access to all the up-to-date information they need to protect themselves and their workers before incidents occur, especially during peak harvest activities."

The sessions are free and available to farmers state-wide. It gives them the chance to ask any questions they may have in an informal and virtual environment.

The VFF will provide information on labour relations, worker availability and its safety services.

VFF Senior Farm Safety Advisor, John Darcy said these information sessions were a helpful way for farmers to improve workplace safety and wellbeing.

"Farmers are responsible for everyone on their farm, so it's important they keep up with the latest OHS requirements and ensure their workplaces are safe and without risks to health," he said.

"We will also provide information on various services we offer farmers, so there’s a lot to be gained by participating."

Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner, Steve Dargavel stressed the value of these webinars amid harvest season.

"As labour intensive work ramps up for harvest, it's more crucial than ever that farmers using labour hire workers only use licensed providers. Farmers should also be aware of their legal responsibilities to their workers, including ensuring their safety and entitlements."

"These monthly webinars will support farmers to understand their existing obligations, and help protect labour hire workers from exploitation."

The virtual sessions will run from 4pm to 5pm on 10 November 2021, 8 December 2021 and 19 January 2022. Farmers are welcome to attend all three sessions to keep up with the latest information.

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