Several years ago, WorkSafe Victoria published “Dairy Safety: A Practical Guide“* A decade on Dairy Australia has published its career guidance “Stepping Stones” which seems to imply that not all employers and workers have a legislative responsibility to work safely and without harming others.
It is a legislative truism that “safety is everyone’s responsibility” and Dairy Australia advises that
“All farm businesses have an obligation under law to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees, contractors, family, visitors and members of the public. Farm businesses who don’t act to fulfil health and safety responsibilities face significant fines and penalties.”
However according to Stepping Stones only some dairy roles have an overt occupational health and safety obligation. There are nine dairy roles tabulated in the Gippsland publication yet only two, the Farmhand (page 12) and the Assistant Farmhand (page 10), include the following as a necessary skill:
“Take responsibility for keeping yourself and others safe.”
Some of the roles in which this skill is not listed include the Farm Owner, the Farm Business Manager, the Farm Production Manager and the Milker.
It is reasonable to assume that the omission was not deliberate as Dairy Australia’s The People in Dairy website does include some useful OHS information and its Employment Starter Kit initiative (ESKi) website includes basic OHS information and a link to WorkSafe’s publication. But the omission of OHS obligations, particularly in the role of Farm Owner and Farm Business Manager, those roles that are most likely to fit the definition of Employer, Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking or Officer for OHS/WHS purposes, is disappointing or editorially careless.
Dairy Australia has improved its OHS advice dramatically over the last decade. However just as facilities, production processes and construction should incorporate safety in design, so safety obligations should have been included in the roles and responsibilities of all the examples in the Stepping Stones career guides. Not having done so allows blogs like this one to point out the inconsistency, an inconsistency that is apparently contrary to Dairy Australia’s general OHS position but, perhaps, is indicative of the general perception of OHS in the context of management roles and responsibilities.
*This article’s author assisted the Victorian Farm Safety Centre of the University of Ballarat in the writing the first edition of Dairy Safety: A Practical Guide.