Have Your Staff Really Understood The On Farm Inductions?
It Makes Good Business Sense If They Do!
Inductions on farm and the describing of operational duties can be seen as a time where we ramble off a few instructions, shuffle documents under each party’s eyes, get them to sign off (because that’s more important than making sure they have understood) and then think that the job has been satisfied as this signed document will prevent litigation of a workplace injury.
But do we believe that this will really prevent any potential hazards causing an accident? Especially when the type of staff you are dealing with are not academic learners or have a poor understanding of English, so why do we present the information to them in this manner?
Handing out written instructions to a worker that either cannot or is not interested in reading can never be assumed that it will prevent injury from potential hazards.
For these type of staff would it be better if the induction and standard operating procedures were presented in a visual format and be accessible anytime to them such as off a Smartphone or IPad.
The questions following are some requirements to ask yourself as a grower so as potential hazards are addressed :
- Does your business have standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for machinery and manual handling tasks?
- How readily accessible are the operating and site instructions of your workplace to both temporary and permanent staff?
- Have you identified if your staff have the ability to read and comprehend it?
- Do you have trouble delivering induction sessions to new employees on farm, especially at harvest when there is a high turnover?
- Do the workers being inducted need both a generic induction such as the safe operational use of a quad bike as well as a site specific induction which could be driving in an area of newly excavated trenches?
- Regardless of the level of expertise do you provide each day site specific inductions for any on orchard personnel?
- If you employ contractors on farm do you still go through the site specific inductions with them?
All of these questions being asked are employer requirements you need to satisfy have been done and can be proven if a work injury and ensuing Worksafe investigation takes place.
As we all know these inductions can be extremely time consuming especially when you have a high turnover of staff that have very little understanding of the demands of manual labour on an orchard (which is common for an overseas workforce).
And the temptation to pass them off as being too busy to get it done will leave you open to someone suffering an injury or being accused of neglect of duty of care by an unscrupulous worker that wants to make fabricated claims that you cannot defend yourself against.
Where to start?
So what can we do as a growers to ensure we answer and carry out all the questions raised? Cut down the amount of time you spend conveying inductions and be more confident your staff understand the hazards and ultimately create a much safer work environment on farm.
One possibility to achieving this is to make the instructions more visual when you deliver them but also be readily accessible afterwards so as they can refer to anything they may have not been clear about.
What do I mean by all of this?
What if I could drag up a policy job card electronically and to complement the learning provide 2 to 3 minutes of identifying the hazards of the area that needs addressing when first arriving on site for the day? So something that could take up to an hour under the previous method now could be done in 10 minutes, which is a significantly improved use of valuable time.
This type of system is now available in the construction industry where both generic and site specific inductions are delivered utilising this method, which has dramatically improved both safety on site but also reduced claims and provided better work practices.
FGVL, over the past couple of months, has been exploring how such a system could be introduced into our grower orchard based systems with the aim of growers complying more with the legislation for a safer workplace but also generating efficient use of time on farm. We have also liaised with Worksafe Victoria and another commercial partner by the name of Codesafe that have successfully integrated this into the construction industry both on a corporate and small business scale which to date has been positive. An example of the type of induction we are trying to introduce can be seen on this link https://swift.codesafe.com.au/codesafedemo/pages/801