Record keeping is a good habit to foster, but in my experience, has never been the priority item to be addressed on a farm.
- There are some records that you are legally required to keep
- Then there are other records you should keep because they can help you with your decision making and management of farm safety
- Overall, keep your recording practices safe and useful, but also ‘sensible’ in relation to the size of your operation
For your average grain and livestock operation, the records legally required to be kept under the WHS Regulations are those involving Electrical, Confined Spaces, Asbestos, Carcinogens, Chemicals, Incidents/Injuries, Health Monitoring and specified High Risk Plant.
When it comes to high risk plant & machinery maintenance records, the regulations specify which records should be kept. These might be service records, test results and usage timelines.
- High Risk Plant – maintenance and usage records – very specific plant defined in the Regulations – such as a Forklift or Elevated Work Platform, Cranes, Telehandlers over 3 tonne capacity
- Manufacturing of Plant – keep this in mind when you are ‘making things’ on farm and seek further advice
- Plant with presence?sensing safeguarding system (more prevalent in manufacturing but may be present in agriculture for practices like sorting of fruits and vegetables)
It is a good habit to record maintenance for all plant & equipment but not always legally required. I encourage you to make an effort in recording your repairs and maintenance, some machines record basic oil changes & maintenance for you anyway, but start with recording major repairs and it will eventually become a useful habit.
Who? What? When?
Your record keeping can be done in whatever format suits you and the people within the business. Some may like technology, but some may not, so you need to think about this and discuss as a workforce. What is the most likely way the people within your business will actually perform these recording tasks?
Members of my website get copies of my farm templates to make their own, and a direct line to me for DIY guidance with each subject.
So keeping in mind that Work, Health & Safety requirements are also influenced by other legislation’s like Dangerous Goods storage and transport. These are the main records I suggest farmers keep from a safety perspective:
- Chemical Storage/SDS/Manifest
- Chemical Spray Diary
- Electrical Testing & Tagging
- Plant & Equipment Maintenance, but most importantly High Risk Plant like Forklifts
- Fire Extinguisher Servicing
- Employee Registers including Induction/Training/Skills/Medical
- Incident/Injury Register
- ‘Return to Work’ plans & records for injured workers
- Confined Spaces (e.g. inspection pit)
- Asbestos Register (if present)
Some of these registers require very little upkeep. They may only be used annually, or less, once you have established the records in the first place.
A full summary of the role of each record & why to keep them is available to my members. (coming soon)