The farmer lobby launched its manual in Wellington yesterday [June 16] with Minister for Labour Kate Wilkinson in attendance.
"If we want to prevent regulation then we need to improve our safety record," said Feds health and safety spokesman, Donald Aubrey.
"We saw this in the May results for the Department of Labour's quad bike safety campaign, with 56 written warnings or improvement notices issued after visiting 162 farms."
Prevention is by far the best policy when it comes to farm safety, he stresses.
"The fact is a prosecution under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act can devastate businesses."
Feds says courts are taking a tougher line on employers with fines are increasing. The HSE Act provides for fines of up to $500,000 in cases of serious harm and up to $250,000 for other offences.
"In the case of a recent quad bike fatality, an employer was prosecuted under the HSE Act for not ensuring the rider was appropriately trained," notes Aubrey.
"This led to a $78,000 fine and a $60,000 reparation payment to the late employee's family. That is big.
"This direct cost doesn't reflect the total financial cost on the business or the indirect emotional harm and stress serious accidents can cause. Some farm businesses could even fail due to the stress and financial impact of an HSE prosecution.
"Keeping farms safe for employees and visitors is no accident and requires a clear strategy. That's why Federated Farmers plain-english Occupational Health and Safety Manual exists helping farm employers meet their obligations under the HSE Act."
Wilkinson welcomed the manual.
"Federated Farmers deserves to be congratulated for proactively providing its members with advice on meeting their workplace safety responsibilities," she says.
"Farmers are responsible for what happens on their land and it's important they take charge of protecting their families and workers from hazards.
"Knowing there's a responsibility is one thing, doing something about it is another."
In the past five years 84 people have died as a result of farm accidents, with hundreds more seriously injured, she notes.