Agricultural operations safety

Agriculture is identified by WorkSafe NZ as one of the top five industries for high-risk activities and workplace accidents.

Everyone involved in an agricultural operation has a responsibility to ensure any risks are reasonably managed.

By investing your time and thought into creating a safe agricultural operation, it will pay dividends in productivity. Health and safety does not need to be complicated – you can make it simple and practical to meet the needs of your operation.

Think about risk before doing tasks. Don’t rely on instinct alone. Prioritise health and safety planning to reduce the risk of people getting sick or injured, or impaired or killed, during your operation.

Ag pilot responsibilities

Ag pilots must understand how your health and safety responsibilities overlap with those of the farm.

You have a responsibility to work with the farm business to make sure you all understand how to deal with any risks on farm — and to make sure that the farm understands and works with you to manage any risks your work may bring.

Part 137 provides rules covering agricultural aircraft operations. These are in addition to the general operating and flight rules contained in Part 91.

Read more about Part 137 Agricultural Aircraft Operations.

Farmer responsibilities

If you are the farmer, you are responsible for the health and safety of people who work for you or who are involved in, or affected by, the work on your farm.

You are also responsible for the health and safety of others that may come onto your farm – you are expected to do what is reasonable and practicable.

You need to talk with your workers and visitors about health and safety, and make sure they participate in farm health and safety.

Learn more about Agriculture health and safety on the WorkSafe NZ website.

Agricultural operations hazards

Accidents seldom have a single cause; there are usually many contributing factors.

When seeking to improve safety and reduce risks, you should consider all potential hazards within agricultural operations to prevent injuries and fatalities.

Safety is not just about keeping people physically safe, it's also about mental health and wellbeing.

Wire strike avoidance

Wire strikes are preventable, but only with a well-planned safety risk management programme to identify hazards and put mitigations in place.

Learn about Wire strike avoidance.

Top-dressing risks

Top-dressing and associated activities can create hazards when transporting, storing, and spreading fertiliser.

Visit WorkSafe NZ to learn how to manage Chemicals.

Farm airstrip hazards

The function of an airstrip is affected by numerous things, each of which can impact on the performance of the pilot and aircraft.

View or download the Safety Guideline: Farm Airstrips and Associated Fertiliser Cartage, Storage and Application (PDF 1 MB)

Aircraft loading risks

Helicopter loading sites should be level, clean and tidy with no loose articles that could come into contact with the helicopter from the resulting rotor wash. When spraying the helicopter loading crew must ensure with each load that the pilot is aware the loading process has been completed and the filler hose has been disconnected prior to lift-off.

Fixed wing loading areas should be of a hard standing permanent surface with no loose gravel or stones that could cause propeller damage. They should be level to avoid the aircraft loader swaying and contacting the aircraft. The pilot needs to be aware after each load that the loading vehicle is clear before moving off. Aircraft loaders should be fitted with mirrors, reversing beepers and video cameras to assist with visibility issues when backing to minimise risk.

Only authorised persons should be on loading sites/areas and be in such a position that they are visible to the loading crew where practical.

Drug and alcohol use

The use of drugs, alcohol and substances, even if consumed outside the workplace, can lead to employee impairment while at work. It not only affects work performance, but also results in higher rates of injuries, fatalities and absenteeism as well as reduced productivity.

Learn how to manage Drug and alcohol risks.


Fatigue is recognised as a major human factors hazard because it affects people’s ability to do their job safely. Fatigue reduces alertness. This may lead to errors, and an increase in workplace incidents and injuries.

Learn more about how to manage Fatigue risks.

Working with other businesses

When there are multiple businesses at the same location, each business must do what they can, within their influence and control, to keep workers safe. In these situations, the most effective way to manage workplace health and safety is by working together.

Visit Working with other businesses.

Worker engagement, participation and representation

Strong worker engagement leads to healthier and safer workplaces. When workers are part of shaping safer work systems, they can suggest practical, cost-effective solutions, and are more likely to make them happen in practice.

Learn about Worker engagement.

Agricultural operations safety checklist

Follow our simple safety checklist to understand the steps to undertake before, during and after agricultural operations.

Read the Agricultural operations safety checklist.

Read the rules related to agricultural operations

Part 133 Helicopter External Load Operations

Part 137 Agricultural Aircraft Operations