Former nurse and current South East Queensland dairy farmer Sara Bucher is supporting a new Dairy Australia safety program which gives farmers the tools they need to create a safe work environment.

Sara has seen first-hand how accidents cause the deaths and serious injuries of farmers and farm workers, so she is determined to eliminate accidents by improving the workplace safety. “Having seen terrible injuries to people in my past career has made me extremely determined that every person go home safe and well,” said Sara.

Sara learned the hard way that every farm needs a dedicated farm safety plan after she and husband Markus went into dairy farming four years ago near Kenilworth on the Sunshine Coast. Several significant accidents involving farm vehicles made Sara and Markus realise the importance of preventing accidents, particularly on high-risk quad bikes. “Farmers are the safest operators in many ways but we needed a formal systematic approach that made our expectations crystal clear,” said Sara. “By doing that we’ve improved quality, farmer confidence and staff retention and we’ve stopped the major incidents repeating themselves.”

With Sara’s background as a nurse and Markus growing up on a farm in Switzerland and trained as a cheesemaker, Sara and Markus opened their cheese and yoghurt factory Maleny Cheese when they took over a farm 14 years ago. They run the farm with a team of seven staff and a school-based trainee, managing people and culture with high safety. Sara believed that their risk management through proper farm safety systems was a vital part of their business success. “It opened up a whole understanding of how important it is to employ professionally-minded people and to support them in doing their job safely,” said Sara. Alongside requiring the workers to wear a helmet on all mobile vehicles, they continue to work closely with staff to hear any concerns and to keep safety front-of-mind, including monthly meetings and using the WhatsApp to spread safety messages.

Sara recommends all farms use Dairy Australia’s new program.“We’ve taken on the tools and are developing it to our program. It’s a great gift that this program is available at no cost so it makes sense to tailor it to your own farm.” Farmers have sacrificed so much of themselves and they should be well protected. “It’s their passion and determination that feeds our country, why should they risk their lives doing it?”

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