Six Steps to a Basic Farm Health & Safety Management System

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Between January 2019 and October 2019, there were 1,827 work-related accidents on New Zealand farms. Most accidents occurred from falls on the same level and were preventable.

Health and Safety on farms is crucial. By law farmers must ensure that work areas on the farm are safe. This includes farm buildings and immediate surrounding areas.

Start with these six steps for a basic health and safety management system:


Identify what could hurt people on your farm or make them unwell. Focus on the risks that could result in injuries or poor health.

Start with listing activities, equipment and features you work with. Identify for each item what could cause harm or poor health. This includes diseases that can be caught from animals or hearing damage from working in noisy environment.

Be sure to communicate risks to family, workers, contractors and visitors if necessary.


Eliminate or get rid of the hazard if possible. For example you may choose to replace a toxic chemical with a non-toxic one.


If you can’t eliminate the hazard, isolate it. Keep the hazard away from workers. Especially chemicals and fuels are capable of causing harm to people and animals. These need to be carefully handled and managed.


If you cannot eliminate or isolate the hazard, minimise it. Workers may need to wear protective helmets, earmuffs or boots. Make sure everyone knows safe handling procedures. Work Safe provides an extensive guide on how to handle cattle safely.


If you can only minimise hazards, monitor them regularly.

Hazard Register

Record identified hazards, control measures and any issues that you find through monitoring in a ‘hazard register’. There are templates available on the Work Safe website and a number of other places such as Dairy NZ. The register should include the following:

  • Hazard identified
  • Risk
  • Risk rating
  • How you are managing the risk

We recommend visiting the Work Safe website. They have many free resources available.

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