Nesting birds are wreaking havoc when it comes to rural insurance, causing more than $4 million in claims over the last three years, says FMG.
“For instance, we’ve recently purchased and had big red buoys screwed onto all our irrigation pipes,” says Sam, who 50/50 sharemilks with his partner Jenna for his parents Craig and Gaewyn on the 250 hectare family farm at Taramoa in Southland.
“That was learning from a near miss and we wanted to make sure the pipes were highly visible and they certainly are now. We have also benefited from productivity gains due to saving time looking for lost pipes.”
Sam sourced the buoys from New Zealand CeeMee company, which sells innovative farming safety solutions. The Hodsells are now also looking at installing rollover crush protection on quad bikes.
“My parents have always been very aware about health and safety,” says Sam.
“Growing up, I learned a lot from seeing the measures my dad put in place on farm.
“We have a health and safety plan, training register and incident report. We used online templates provided by farming industry organisations to draw those up and it was pretty straightforward. We sat down as a team and identified our risks and talked about how we could manage, minimise or eliminate them.
“Identifying and managing risk is also ongoing. For instance, one of our critical risks is working with large animals. We provide training for our people, to make sure they have the skills to safely do all aspects of their work. With livestock that includes training people to work in safe ways around animals and also how to read an animal’s behaviour. However, we recognise that it takes a long time to pick that up.”
Fatigue has also been identified as a critical risk on farm and over the past two years, Sam and Jenna have increased their staff numbers to help address that – with resulting benefits.
“Fatigue is one of the biggest risks from my point of view,” says Sam.
“Employing extra staff means more of the workload is shared. We talk with people about how they are feeling, and if they are tired, I will say go home and get some rest. I know if I’m feeling tired or under the weather, I don’t do the best job and there’s a risk of taking shortcuts. I don’t want anyone working if they are feeling like that.”