Simon Craig of Lemac Farm: Farmer case study
Simon Craig is a former consulting agronomist and now manages Lemac Farm, a broadacre grain and sheep farm in Kooloonong, Victoria.
'Farm safety for me is paramount because our staff are so hard to get. I really want them to stay around, I want them to feel safe. I don't want to have to explain to their wife or their family that we didn't put that guard back on or something happened. Safety is not only good for our business, it's good for the community,' said Simon.
Simon's time as an agronomist provided a solid background of farm safety knowledge, and a passion to create a positive environment for workers. When an opportunity to manage Lemac Farm came along, Simon returned to farming and put his years of knowledge and experience into practice.
'When we ever have a new staff member come into our place, we give them a full induction of how to use equipment. And we try and make sure they're aware if they have any questions they can ask,' said Simon.
For Simon, improving safety is an ongoing process. While his farm is still on this journey, his dedication to worker safety is his highest priority.
In assessing their safety processes, Simon proactively approached the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF). John Darcy, a VFF Farm Safety Officer, visited Simon's farm to provide tailored safety advice. Simon then spoke with WorkSafe to see how else they could improve.
'Wayne Humphries from WorkSafe came along and gave us some tips. You might not notice those risks that are there, but they do. That's their job. So that enabled me to have some priority areas that we need to seriously address,' said Simon.
The example Simon sets for his workers fosters a culture that encourages workers to speak up. Just as Simon considers safety his priority, all workers are expected to take responsibility for it as well. Each time a worker reports a safety issue to Simon, he responds to it immediately. Lemac Farm also prioritises machinery maintenance; by attending to maintenance on a quiet day, they're more efficient in the paddock the rest of the time.
'We have taken a specific focus over the last 12 months, and an action plan for the next 2-3 years, to create a much safer work environment - which coming from a historical farm, can take a fair bit of investment and time. It doesn't happen overnight, but it's in development and that's certainly been a positive for people who have come to visit,' said Simon.
'Knowing where to start is the most important thing. As a consultant before, I truly understand the benefit of seeking expert advice. Don't be afraid of asking for help in developing your farm systems.'