New ag training program set to roll out

New ag training program set to roll out

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Safe Farms WA executive officer Maree Gooch.

Safe Farms WA executive officer Maree Gooch.

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"It's a good starting point - not just for farmers but for anyone..."

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FIFTEEN students will receive a scholarship for a Green Card for Ag Safety, a course developed by Safe Farms WA based on industry feedback, as part of the WAFarmers Bootcamp.

Safe Farms executive officer Maree Gooch said the online induction and training program aligned with many of the roles and responsibilities of those working in the agriculture industry and was similar to a White Card for the construction industry, except that it was a "good to have - not a must have".

"It's a good starting point - not just for farmers but for anyone from ag service providers, stock agents, bankers to Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) staff - to know what they need to know if they're going to work on a farm or step on a farm," Ms Gooch said.

"We've aligned it with a Certificate II/III VET qualification, so it's relatively simple to complete and very interactive with videos etc."

Ms Gooch said the training was relevant across businesses with varied enterprises and could be completed in under three hours online, with the option to do it on your mobile phone.

Delivered in 11 self-paced modules which cover hazard identification, risk management, working alone, chemicals and hazardous substances, livestock, equipment and machinery and noise, the course was developed in line with the responsibilities written into Western Australia's work health and safety legislation.

The program was instigated by Safe Farms following multiple enquiries from growers and government departments from across WA over the past five years.

"Employers are realising they need to do inductions and provide training and information, however there appears to be quite a number of barriers faced by growers who are often time poor and don't have a clear understanding of their responsibilities," Ms Gooch said.

She said the aim of the online course was to remove the need for time-poor employers and contractors to go over important induction and training requirements with each and every new worker, volunteer, family member, student or contractor.

"The online course is also relevant to ag industry service providers and government workers as they too visit and spend time on farms across WA, but may have not had the opportunity to access important WHS training in the past," Ms Gooch said.

"We felt it was particularly important to give those students entering the industry the leg up, as there are some students who may not be able to afford this sort of training."

Trialled on about 300 Murdoch University students over the past year, the online course is being offered for $99 (including GST) to make it affordable for both workers and employers.

"The course is valued at $375 (inc GST) per person, but we want it to be an industry benchmark and for everybody to be able to pick it up, hence why we've put it at the $99 including GST price," Ms Gooch said.

Muresk Institute general manager Prue Jenkins said the organisation had a longstanding relationship with Safe Farms because ensuring students have the skills needed to work safely on farms was a top priority.

"With WA's new work health and safety legislation coming into effect from January 2022, there's never been a more important time for training in safe farm practices for WA farmers," Ms Jenkins said.

"We are proud to partner with Safe Farms.

"Prospective employees with a Green Card gives employers assurance that their new hire can work responsibly onfarm."

Safe Farms WA chairwoman Tracey Utley said the Green Card for Ag Safety was a worthwhile and necessary initiative that had been developed as a direct request from industry.

"I completed my Green Card for Ag Safety recently as part of the trials we have been doing with industry members and recommend it as a valuable check-in for both employers and for workers to be across their obligations with legislation and to develop their safety conversations and risk management skills," Ms Utley said.

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