Who likes meetings at the best of times?
We are farmers, our clients are (mostly) farmers. People who love farming and people who love meetings are often not the same person. You got into farming because you didn't like working indoors, you thought animals (cows in particular) were more predictable than humans and you like riding a motorbike. Maybe you love meetings - you like nothing better than writing up a checklist and ticking it off. Even so I personally can recommend - never have a HnS meeting.
Even if you provide lunch it is unlikely that you will be enticing anyone with a HnS meeting.
Farmers have been berated for so many things over the last ten years. Orange Cross believes farmers - on the whole - are pretty good at making sure things are safe. We have just struggled to document it.
Absolutely have a get together with your team. Maybe you can have a precalving lunch at local cafe - welcome new staff, get them focused on what processes will get you through calving and talk about the lessons that have been learned on your particular farm. It might be that a certain area is not accessible for a few months with a tractor - or that taking a silage wagon on this part of the farm is likely to end up in a tow... It might be a discussion about how to best get the calf milk to the shed ... just make a few notes and you are done.
If this is your first season on a new farm - start well - get the team to agree to talk regularly and share information. Orange Cross allows staff to record things when they remember (because being in a cafe with the boss shouting lunch can stun them) and you will be notified. You can start sending your contractors (vets, milk plant specialists etc) your HnS information well before they come on site - they will always have access to your most recent version.
Regardless of where you have a meeting – record who was there and what was discussed.
Don’t set yourself up to meet every week if you know it is not going to happen.
Four Formal Meetings a year
In this example we have taken a spring calving farm.
Pre Calving : Lunch at café.
- Welcome new staff
- Detail responsibilities over calving (who gets calf milk in and how, who gets calves into castle etc)
- Organise vehicle maintenance if required.
- Record what vehicles each staff member is competent to use
Calving/AB gap = quickie : brunch
- Maybe a catering on farm occasion unless you are close to town
- Detail wins over calving, any areas to improve on for next year
- Talk about timing for AB tech and what changes that will make to your daily routine. Make sure AB tech is inducted to farm.
- It will be getting warmer – stock up the sunscreen at the shed
Bulls out – Dinner
- A celebration of survival of the long hours.
- Review any incidents – there are always some in the previous 3 mths
- Make someone responsible for checking and giving shopping list for first aid kit
- Plan a 30 min review of the HAZCHEM register.
- Discuss team training gaps if there are some – what days are team at tech?
- Get team to plan summer holidays
Pre Dry – Lunch
- When and how many will be dried off
- What training needs to be done over winter
- Plan time off farm for everyone – remember leaders need time off farm too.
You might have more meetings - waiting for the AB tech you may chat about something - document it and keep it simple.
Depending where you are in the country there are a number of HnS professionals that can help you ‘run’ a meeting. You can have them review your HnS system and many will even help with some training. WorkSafe have lots of resources on particular items (chainsaws, quads etc) and they are really great at encouraging you to do better. Links to many are on our web page.
Get together with your team – but please – don’t call it a HnS meeting.