Eringa Ltd

A farm business protecting its land and its people


  • Eringa

    Eringa Ltd - Wairarapa

Dan Houston has been managing Eringa, a 1070ha farm in Longbush, south east of Masterton for more than 10 years.

Primarily a sheep and beef operation, Eringa also is a homestay business that attracts a large number of visitors to the farm in school holidays and in the summer months. Guests are primarily from cities and this has brought Dan a unique challenge.

“Although I instinctively understand what the potential hazards are on a farm, those new to a farm environment would not necessarily. A few years ago we had a wake-up call when a tree fell on a contractor – they had a lucky escape but it did make us aware that an accident can happen at any time. I became acutely aware of the safety issues that existed in our business and needed to take action – our farm is a huge investment and not worth jeopardising,” says Dan.

Four years ago Scotty McLennan at Markhams encouraged Dan to attend an in-house Health & Safety seminar. Since then Scotty has introduced Dan to Lance Hare from LB & T Hare Consultancy Service, experts in health and safety for the rural sector. Lance is providing Eringa with a comprehensive package including Health & Safety manuals, onsite farm visits to ensure implementation, and continued onsite compliance support.

Although Dan only started working with Lance eight months ago, already improvements in Eringa’s systems and processes are resulting in better work practices on the farm, making it a safer environment for both workers and visitors.

It was at their first meeting that Lance identified the specific needs for Eringa and established the priorities for the business.

“The first thing we did was plot the co-ordinates of the farm and have these available in case of an accident. We prepared a hazard checklist sheet and put in place systems for the day-to-day handling of chemicals, machinery and stock and also established emergency procedures,” says Dan.

Signs have been erected instructing visitors to check in with Dan by phone or text when they arrive or depart the property.

“I identified all the relevant contractors that may come on to the property and Lance sent them letters with a requirement to acknowledge they understand what their responsibilities are and what mine are.

“This can be been quite detailed, for example in the case of the fertiliser contractor, we established the pilot to be accountable for the plane and the farmer responsible for the super bin and track to the airstrip. The fertiliser truck driver and company take responsibility for communicating their requirements to the farmer and so on. This type of document makes it crystal clear and leaves no room for confusion. So far there has been a 100 percent acceptance of this system which is fantastic,” says Dan.

Scotty McLennan from Markhams believes a Health & Safety regime is an essential part of any business’s strategy.

“We encourage our clients to have a regime in place and to engage with independent professionals such as Lance. In this day and age when something goes wrong, people look to apportion blame. Making sure we are covered is vital to diminish risk,” he says.

For Dan and Lance, the next step is to meet in December and plan what the next set of priorities will be, especially important with the busy holiday season approaching.

“The whole process has been so worthwhile so far. It has not been expensive, in actual fact it’s been a very minimal investment compared to the potential cost of an accident,” says Dan.

If you would like to discuss implementing similar programmes in your business, phone Lance on (027) 366-0011 or (06) 379-8567, or email lbandthareltd@xtra.co.nz

Published Summer 2011.




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