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If you buy health and safety advice, make sure it’s the right advice

Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.

WorkSafe's Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for safety.

PCBUs should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. "When selecting a new contractor or buying equipment, business owners do their homework," "They shop around, look online, ask colleagues and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources.

"business owners should make sure that they're not simply going to get a folder or piles of forms someone else has done for them. That won't make their business any safer. What they actually need is a way of building a health and safety culture into activities and constructing a really effective culture of involving everyone."

There's no substitute for the unique knowledge the owner, family and workers have of the business, its hazards, its facilities and day-to-day operation. "What's most important is everyone thinking about the risks and managing them so everyone stays healthy and safe. When everyone is involved there is a positive impact on other parts of the business."

Mr McCone says while there are good health and safety consultants out there, they are not all of the same quality and effectiveness. "owners need to make sure they are working with a competent and qualified professional safety advisor – that may not be the first health and safety advisor they get talking to."

To help businesses buy the right kind of support, the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ), the national umbrella organisation representing all workplace health and safety professions, has developed a simple checklist.

Ask them these five quick questions before making a decision:

  • Which professional association do you belong to – can you confirm this?
  • What qualifications and/or certification do you have?
  • What relevant skills and experience do you have for this job?
  • Can you give me examples of similar work you have done recently?
  • Are you happy for us to contact your clients about your work for them?