I know that insurance and risk mitigation isn’t exactly a subject that a lot of people are excited to think and talk about. Most of the time it is thought of as something you have to have and you renew every year without a great deal of consideration or fore thought. I see this quite often in my line of work as an Account Manager at Regional Insurance Brokers in Emerald. I work predominantly with rural clients and this is work I love. As a women that has spent her entire life living and working in Agriculture, this isn’t a foreign environment to me, only now I am looking a little more closely at the consequences of failing to think ahead to prevent incidents.

Important considerations when operating a business

My reasons for writing about my work are simple, I just want the industry to reflect on how they operate their businesses. To understand a little better where there are gaps in cover and how to protect themselves, their families, employees and their livelihoods. By simply taking an interest in risk mitigation, by asking questions of their Insurance Broker producers can be a lot clearer on where they stand and build stronger and safer businesses.

Farming businesses aren’t as cut and dry as a store front or other businesses types, rural people live and work on the business 24-7 across multiple situations in remote areas. This alone poses greater risk and challenges as the statistics show. Are you aware that only 3% of Queensland’s workforce work in Agriculture but 30% of all workplace accidents occur in Ag? This equates to 13 Agricultural workers dying in a calendar year and 1700 are injured, 1 in 25 people will be affected by an agricultural workplace incident. Have a think about your family and community can you see where this has had an effect on people you know or you yourself. The point to consider is that these figures are only drawn from Worksafe, and it would not include owner operators and contractors that are not covered by work cover.

Due to the nature of living and working on the land, certain leniencies tend to get taken when it comes to safety on the land, the attitude, of, we just need to get this job done, or the trucks will be here at daylight no time to stop and do this safer. Whilst all well intentioned things do go wrong and when they do the implications can be great, to life and livelihood. There are a few simple things producers & contractors can do to place themselves in a better position reducing their incident rate and risk on the farm.

Taking an outsiders look at your business

Have you ever stepped back from the day to day routine, and looked at how you do business? To actually stop and evaluate how you use vehicles, the speed in which you run day to day, what pressures are placed on staff and family? A lot of the time the incidents that we see are due to working too fast and cutting the ‘safety’ corners.
Small things like taking the time to educate staff on proper use of PPE equipment and the correct operation of machinery can make a huge difference. Documenting these inductions and staff training sessions is vital, if in the event of an incident and there are charges brought against a business these documents make a big difference, they can also make a difference to your insurability.

First Aid & Safety

Are you prepared for emergencies? Is there an appointed member in your team that is responsible for first aid and safety? Does the appointed safety officer have the confidence and authority to say ‘no, that’s not ok’? In the event of an incident having a person that is designated and trained in first aid can have a great impact. Clear direction and immediate support can be the difference between life and death on the land.

Now, if you have made it through this article and have started to think about how you operate, you might be interested in one more thing. In business we are all accountable to the OH& S laws, large penalties can apply to cases that producers are proven to have fallen down in the protection of their staff. Such cases can be found on https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au. There is a type of insurance cover called Statuary Liability that protects you from the fines imposed by a statutory body such as Work safe, criminal courts etc. This type of cover can protect your business in the event that you are held liable for an incident on your farm.

Implementation is key

On a daily basis the agriculture industry is posed with a lot of physical and legal challenges, and the best thing you can do is to analyse your business and day to day running from an outsider’s perspective. This will give you the clarity to implement a few things that will protect your family, staff and business going forward this is where your insurance broker can really help you mitigate your risk. Ask the questions and you may be surprised at where you have been leaving yourself open to incident and risk.