[30 October/Stuff]

WorkSafe NZ Chief Inspector Darren Handforth is urging farmers to check their handling and storage of hazardous substances as changes to our health and safety regulations are due to come into effect on December 1. Mr Handforth said that farmers often underestimate the risks from using sprays and fertilisers, which can result in serious health consequences. Exposure to agrichemicals is a major contributor to work-related deaths in the industry. Mr Handforth explained that under the new rules many existing requirements would continue, so if currently compliant there may not be much for farmers to do. The first step is for farmers to identify and assess all risks on their farms. They need to keep an inventory of these, and read the appropriate data safety sheets. Mr Handforth said that a big area for improvement was in the storage of these hazardous substances.