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Changes to health and safety rules this year could have a big impact on Taranaki’s rural businesses, but one local company has geared up to help.

Stratford business OnFarmSafety NZ has a wealth of expertise across the rural and health and safety sectors, and is set to help the region’s businesses develop the safety manuals, policies and procedures to not only meet the changing legislation, but also to ensure they’re operating safely and smartly.

“Having a solid safety plan in place is critical for all businesses, but particularly those in the rural sector,” says OnFarmSafety director and farmer Bronwyn Muir.

“There’s the compliance aspect, but also security when it comes to staff and contractors, insurance, and even standard operating procedures around many operational activities which can be really useful to document.”

Bronwyn founded the business in 2012, and has since
grown it to nine staff, citing assistance from the
regional development agency Venture Taranaki
as a factor in helping her grow so successfully.

“From day one we worked with Venture Taranaki’s business advisory team to access business coaching and strategic planning with PricewaterhouseCoopers, though the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s capability voucher programme.”

“Through the vouchers we were able to work with Paul Petrowski at PWC to develop the strategic plan for the business, and he has since become part of the team and helped us to grow sustainably,” Bronwyn said.

Having seen the benefits of voucher funding for training, OnFarmSafety has now become an approved training provider, meaning that NZTE vouchers could be available to help businesses get up to speed with health and safety. Looking to the future, Bronwyn sees much more of clients’ policies and manuals moving online, and this is something the company can assist with.

“So much of the documentation is currently paper-based, but moving it to the web opens up a lot of benefits in terms of speed, keeping documents current and making them easily accessible.”

Recognising the challenges of identifying hazards and developing online documents from the back paddock, where internet access is likely to be non-existent, Bronwyn returned to Venture Taranaki, and has accessed funding through another government agency, Callaghan Innovation, for a feasibility study around developing custom software versus existing technology to help overcome this. The study proved valuable in helping OnFarmSafety amend an existing software tool safe in the knowledge it was the smartest solution.

“Research and development grants can be used for a range of technical projects, and this is a great example of how the grants can help a company test a good idea and make informed business decisions,” says Venture Taranaki business advisor Rachael Berndt.

“The feasibility study enabled OnFarmSafety to make the right call and progress the project, which has meant they can move on to other areas of growing the business and their services to the region and beyond.”

To find out more about how Venture Taranaki can support other Taranaki businesses, contact Rachael Berndt on 06 757 6052 or Rachael@venture.org.nz or head to www.taranaki.info.

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