According to numbers published by ACC, more than 60 farm-related injuries are reported every day, leaving much room for improvement.
"In my experience, a farm that makes health and safety a priority is a productive and profitable farm," he says.
Jake's own health and safety focus began with a solid grounding on his family's dairy farm and continued through his studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and practical farm placements.
"Mum and Dad were keen for us to be out on farm with them from an early age, but we were very well supervised," says Jake, who now works for ANZ in Ashburton as a relationship associate.
"There were always strictly 'no go' areas and very clear expectations around behaviour. As we got older and started using farm bikes and equipment, they made sure we understood how to use everything safely.
"There were very strict rules around the biekes. Never use them on uneven surfaces and be very aware of wet or muddy ground. The approach was always, if in doubt, get off and walk - check over the next rise, check for things like creeks, before you get back on.
"There were also strong rules around speed and wearing seat belts in all vehicles, and if you were taking something like a tractor on the road, use flashing lights and be very visible and always have the forks pointing down."
There was training about towing or lifting heavy loads and checking guards and behaviour around things like PTO shafts, he says. "It was very much sequential learning, learning as we went but with very good supervision."
Jake believes all parts of a farm's structure can play a role in good health and safety. From young staff through to roles like his, as consultants or advisors.
"Sometimes you get so bogged down with the day-to-day graft that it is hard to see where small improvements can make a big difference. If we stop seeing health and safety as compliance and look at it as productive farming with thriving staff, we might see an improvement in our pretty miserable track record of injuries and deaths on farm."
Jake has a Bachelor of Agricommerce at Lincoln University and then a Masters in Agricultural Science, through Massey University – completing his studies in Hamilton with the support of a DairyNZ post-graduate scholarship. He then spent time working part-time for Dairy Trust Taranaki and on the family farm before joining ANZ in February 2021.
Those experiences continued his health and safety learning.
As part of his degree, he also had to do practical work on farm. One was a family farm business in Oamaru and the other a large Landcorp farm in Te Anau.
“They both had very good health and safety processes, but it was interesting to see the different approaches. In Oamaru, we had regular health and safety meetings and toolbox meetings and would discuss risks and how to manage them, anything new and near misses – what had happened and how that risk should be managed. We’d have lunch once a week at the manager’s house to complete our health and safety meeting. In my first week I was told I was running the meeting. That was a great way to break the ice and get to feel part of the team.”
At the Landcorp farm, the health and safety processes were standard operating procedures that applied across all their farms. He picked up a lot of my specific knowledge around health and safety there.
“There were similarities to my parents’ approach though. There were deer on the farm and I’d never worked with them before. My first two weeks were basically spent shadowing the manager and learning from him, and his 30 years’ experience, to understand the behaviours of the deer in the sheds and paddocks and how to work safely with them. That was awesome.”
Jake won his FMG Young Farmer regional title at his first attempt, and also enjoyed a clean sweep in the competition, winning the most points in all four contest strainers.