Preparing workers for harvest

We know finding agricultural workers is getting harder and harder. Now more than ever, training and regular communication with your workers is key to improving efficiency and safety for harvest. Lost time and devastation from an injury or fatality in the workplace can really add a high emotional and financial toll on farms.
So here are two ways you can set your business up for success this harvest.

Regular communication

Consider a daily toolbox meeting where you talk about:

  • goals for the day’s work
  • safety issues to be aware of
  • maintenance, production or safety issues that happened the day before.

Have some dot points on paper or your phone to tick off each day, to keep yourself on track.
Hold the meetings daily – getting everyone used to the routine will encourage workers to contribute more.
Keep to time – a short meeting is a good meeting!
Encourage feedback from the team. If you and the rest of the team respond positively to a person speaking up, their confidence will grow in doing this over time. These meetings often identify new or better ways to do things.

Graduated supervision

When people are new on your farm, even if they have experience in the industry, graduated supervision is an important approach.
Having an induction for farm rules, policies and ways of working is a key first step. Then spending time with them one-on-one as they begin new tasks – it might even be a practice run or two before harvest or baling starts in earnest. Once you’re sure they’re confident in the task, check in with them a couple of times during the day asking how they’re finding things, and if there’s anything they’re unsure about. This will encourage them to contact you if they’re not sure about something, and could save on downtime if it averts a mistake being made.

Free support available

Do you need help setting up safety systems on your farm? Get free, confidential and personalised safety advice through the OHS Essentials program at a time that suits you – email to get started.
Tarnya Dalla, Agriculture team, WorkSafe Victoria

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