Well-rested employees, contractors and others help make the rural work environment safe says New Zealand’s leading farm consultants, AgSafe NZ.
A health and safety plan that includes procedures for managing working hours, rest and fatigue can also help you considerably cut the personal, social and financial costs of accidents that stem from fatigued and overworked staff.
“Overworking leads to fatigue and dehydration can cause the onset of headaches, loss of sleep, loss of concentration and a lack of co-ordination,” says says Jim Findlay, Rural Consultant for AgSafe New Zealand Ltd.
Employers must take all practical steps to keep employees safe at work. This includes making sure that the working hours and shift patterns are sensible and fair. The Employment Relations Act 2000 states all employees must have a 30-minute meal break and two 10-minute rest breaks in any 8-hour period.
There are several ways employers can manage fatigue. First up is simply talking to staff about how to reduce and combat tiredness on the job. “This where you can spell out the employer’s responsibility to keep employees healthy and safe, and how workers’ will also need to take on their own responsibilities to manage their own safety,” says Jim.
Employees are also responsible if their bad judgement that caused by fatigue, endangers someone. The employee’s responsibility also includes their own personal health care.
Agreements like shift-work require employees to work odd hours when people are normally asleep. “Your employees have to take mandatory breaks and get enough sleep between shifts. Work out how you can balance out these requirements,” adds Jim. You can let employees have longer times off if they have to sleep during the day to work nights.
It is important to have a sound understanding how fatigue contributes to accidents and injury in rural businesses. Employers should limit shifts to a safe number of hours, oversee the shift work and overtime so employees get enough time to recover, ensure people are working appropriate hours and aren’t fatigued.
Additionally have a contingency plans in place to cover for staff when they’re ill, helps you to know when to remove staff from hazardous jobs if you suspect and see the signs they are not feeling 100 per cent.
Employees and contractors should understand the suitable food and eating times and how to make the most of these times, how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep, how prescribed medications affect their awareness and how to recognise fatigue.
Contact AgSafe NZ Ltd:
Phone: 0274 587 724