Hazard-warning app designed by Kiwi farmer

A Canterbury farmer has developed a new phone app to keep farm workers safe in one of our most dangerous working environments, using GPS technology to alert workers to any dangers around them.

At Canterbury's Woodward Farms, health and safety is pride of place.

Now they're now trying to bring their policies into the 21st century using the latest technology.

"With the app they can essentially go anywhere on the farm, and when they cross the boundary they're prompted to see our health and safety rules," says Woodward Farm Director Susie Woodward.

The phone and web app is designed by farm-manager-turned-app-developer Ryan Higgs.

"You've always got a mobile on you so you can look at your mobile, look at the map, look at the risks around you," he says.

More people are killed in the agricultural sector than any other -- 20 died on farms in 2014.

From unpredictable animals to heavy machinery, there are numerous ways to get injured on the job.

"We're looking after a team of five staff and to me it's really important that they all get home safe to their families," Ms Woodward says.

"The last thing I want to do is to have to make a phone call."

The app does away with paper completely, overhauling the sign-in process for visiting contractors.

Walk onto the farm and a satellite picks you up, and the app alerts you to any nearby risks.

There are 30 to 40 risks on average on New Zealand farms.

Just in the diary shed, there's the chance of being kicked or crushed by an animal, or slipping on the wet floor.

Outside, there's the chance of drowning in the effluent pond.

Even the friendly cows can be dangerous.

"You get the girls that let you know when they're threatened and then there's the ones that will kick out at you with no warning at all sort of thing," says Michael Woodward.

Every risk is identified and they're putting safety first.


Posted by Ryan Higgs

Ryan has a science and farming background and has held various innovation roles in the dairy sector. Ryan’s interest is in developing a practical tool that makes rural health and safety management easy.

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