WHS duties

Everyone working in agriculture has work health and safety duties. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must manage risks in a workplace.   

Everyone in the workplace has WHS duties under the model WHS Act.  

You have specific duties if you are: 

  • a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) 

  • a principal contractor 

  • a designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier and installer of plant, substances or structures 

  • an officer. 

Workers must take care of their own safety and consider the safety of others when working in agriculture.  

The model WHS Regulations have duties that apply to agricultural work. This includes managing risks of powered mobile plant, hazardous manual tasks, hazardous chemicals and working outside.  

As a PCBU, you must, so far as is reasonably practicable:  

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace  

  • consult with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking and who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a health and safety matter, and 

  • consult cooperate and coordinate activities with all other relevant duty holders. 

Duty to manage risks in agriculture 

You must, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate or minimise risks associated with forestry work. This involves: 

  • identifying hazards—find out what could go wrong and what could cause harm. 

  • assessing risks if necessary—understand the harm each hazard could cause, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. 

  • controlling risks—implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the circumstances. 

  • reviewing control measures to ensure they are working as planned. 

You must always first aim to eliminate hazards. 

If elimination is not possible, you must minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, for example: 

  • choose the safest equipment for your farm and maintain it 

  • choose the safest chemicals and follow the manufacturer’s instructions 

  • ensure workers and visitors are aware of the risks and hazards at the workplace 

  • ensure workers have the skills to work safely – for example, when handling animals and using farm equipment 

  • closely supervise new and inexperienced workers.