VIC: safety compliance program for horticulture businesses

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 10 December, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news

WorkSafe Victoria, the Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Labour Hire Authority recently visited 38 horticulture businesses in the Koo Wee Rup, Lang Lang and Cardinia regions as part of a WHS compliance program.

Inspectors and authorised officers were on-site to help growers comply with workplace health and safety obligations, COVID-19 requirements and the proper provision of labour-hire workers through a licenced provider.

Harvest season was an ideal time to educate farm operators on safety and address any compliance issues, said WorkSafe Victoria regional operations director eastern region, Kevin Hayes.

“The pressures of harvest can mean that horticulture workers are exposed to a higher risk of unsafe situations, so it’s important growers receive all the guidance they need during this busy time,” Hayes said.

WorkSafe inspectors issued eight improvement notices to duty holders for safety issues including improper guarding on machinery, and substandard traffic management systems to prevent pedestrian and forklift interactions in packing sheds.

There have been seven deaths in the agriculture industry so far this year. Joint operations aim to help prevent further harm.

“We would much rather address any workplace safety issues early, through information sessions and inspections, than after a tragedy,” Hayes said.

Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner, Steve Dargavel, said the recent visits demonstrated the effectiveness of the joint education and inspection approach.

“Our inspectors were well received by growers, providers and workers and we delightfully found growers were using licensed providers.”

The Labour Hire Authority encourages growers to use the free follow my providers tool to track any changes to the licence status of their providers.

WorkSafe, Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions, Labour Hire Authority, Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation are hosting a virtual information session on horticulture safety on 19 January 2022.

WorkSafe Victoria’s OHS essentials program also provides businesses with access to independent consultants who offer free and personalised OHS advice.