OSH Obligations

Pebbles gives Farmer Freddy a lesson about OSH Obligations

Farmer Freddy is pottering around the farm one morning when his daughter Pebbles pulls into the yard. 

“Hi Pebbles” says Freddy.  “What are you doing here?”

“Nothing in particular, Dad.  I was just passing so thought I’d pop in.”  Freddy invites Pebbles in for a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

“As I was driving up the farm track this morning”, says Pebbles, “I noticed quite a few people down by the edge of the lake.  They all had binoculars and long lens cameras and seemed to be very excited about something or other.” 

“They must be the members of the local bird watching society”, explains Freddy.  “Their chairman came and saw me the other day to ask whether they could set up a few hides down by the lake.  I saw no problems as I’m not using that field at the moment, so agreed.”

“That’s very kind of you Dad, but I hope you let them know about the bait laying which is happening on your farm next week.”

“No, do I need to?” asked Freddy.

“Of course you do Dad”, exclaims Pebbles. “You know how dangerous that possum bait can be and you have OSH obligations to consider you know.”

“OSH obligations again”, sighs Freddy, “I just can’t seem to escape them!”

“No Dad, you can’t.  And for good reason too.  You could incur serious liability if an authorised visitor was injured by a hazard that you knew about.”

“Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, you have a duty to warn visitors who have your permission to be on your farm, of any work-related, out of the ordinary hazards that you know about that may cause serious harm.  In this case it’s the possum bait you need to warn them about, but in the future you might also need to advise them of things like tree felling or earthmoving machinery in operation.”

“I might as well charge them for access then if it’s going to cause more work for me”, says Freddy, spying the possibilities of a new money making scheme.

“Actually Dad, your obligations would be even greater if they paid to use your land”, continues Pebbles.  “If people pay to use your land for any purpose, those people become your customers.  You would then have to take all practical steps to ensure that they were not harmed by any hazard arising on the farm, not just work-related, out of the ordinary hazards”.

“So I should probably not accept the $200 the Chairman said he’d give me then?”, sighs Freddy.

“Not unless you want even more work!”, laughs Pebbles.  “And Dad, next time your generous spirit takes over, remember to have a chat with me first.  I didn’t spend five years at law school for nothing!”


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