WorkSafe Victoria prioritises farm safety in harvest season
WorkSafe Victoria, the Labour Hire Authority and the Department of Health inspectors will visit farms around Shepparton this month to help the region have a safe harvest. Following an information session at the Parklake Hotel on 10 February, inspectors will participate in a three-day inspection program and visit orchards and packing sheds in the area.
Worksafe Victoria inspectors will focus on managing the risks around plant and manual handling and the information, instruction and training being provided to workers.
WorkSafe Victoria Regional Operations Director Kate Maheras said it has been a difficult time for the horticultural industry, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shortage of seasonal workers.
“This harvest is presenting new challenges and it’s more important than ever that health and safety remains a priority so that businesses can continue to operate safely and smoothly and give seasonal workers confidence that these workplaces are meeting their responsibilities,” Maheras said.
Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner Steve Dargavel said the Authority will focus on checking that providers have COVIDSafe plans, as well as looking at their licence status and conditions for labour hire workers. Dargavel said compliance with existing laws will prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the exploitation of workers, create fairness among employers and improve the reputation of the horticulture sector and regional communities as employment destinations.
“These site inspections are important because compliance with coronavirus restrictions and having COVIDSafe plans means we’re protecting the harvest and regional communities — staying safe means staying open,” Dargavel said.
Department of Health Compliance and Enforcement Commander Leanne Hughson said the visits will help ensure COVID safety and compliance throughout the harvest season.
“The Chief Health Officer’s Directions will mean all seasonal workers and the businesses they work in are required to meet additional workplace obligations to help keep themselves and the wider community safe,” Hughson said.
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