27 Jul 2015

Changes to farmland safety regulations

8:40 am on 27 July 2015

Changes have been made to proposed health and safety laws to encourage farmers to allow recreational access to their properties.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee has clarified what a workplace is, in its report back to Parliament on the bill.

Their report said a workplace included farm buildings and structures necessary for the operation of the farm, but not other parts of the farm when work was not being carried out.

It noted the amendment should encourage farmers to allow walkers on their land without being unduly concerned about their liability.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne said the change was exactly what farmers asked for.

"We've gone a long way in the last ten to 15 years to make sure that access is available for people who want to come on our farms, and this was looking like it was going to be a huge road block.

"It is a good result - to make it crystal clear that you are able to have people come onto your farm, because it was going to be a real issue.

"Some guys had already started to say to people, 'Sorry you can't come on the farm'."

Ms Milne said the change was sensible.

"If you go out and want to go down to the river, and you fall over and hurt yourself on benign farm land, why should it be my problem as a business owner, as a farmer?

"I've kindly let you come on, to go and recreate, and to be held accountable if you do something silly like not watching what you're doing or where you're going, why would I want to open myself up to that?

"So yeah, this is exactly what needed to happen."

Opposition parties and the Council of Trade Unions have accused the Government of gutting the Bill, saying the latest version of the legislation fails to deliver what the Government promised.

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