Farm-based Work, Health and Safety

In your role as a volunteer you have a duty of care to provide  safe working environment, for yourself, other volunteers and the farmers we assist.

Your responsibilities:

  • Take time to establish your abilities and competencies
  • Ensure that you step through with the farmer the Placement Health and Safety Checklist before you start work. 
  • Ensure you are shown the location of the toilets, clean water and first aid kit.
  • Ensure you have the correct safety gear for the work you are undertaking and for the conditions you are working in.
  • Schedule sufficient rest time and keep hydrated.Ensure that you use safe manual handling methods (as illustrated).  Use your legs, not your back when lifting.
  • Ensure that you have taken into consideration specific site hazards that you may encounter. e.g. the location of chemicals, trip hazards, and uneven or unstable surfaces.
  • Report any incidents and injuries to the Outback Links team using the Incident Reporting Form.
  • If driving, seatbelts are to be worn by each person and driving is to be slow.
  • Locate any appropriate firefighting equipment and identifying if the equipment close by can/cannot be used on the equipment/tools being used. An example would be a water fire hydrant or water hose on an electrical fire.
  • When using a step ladder ensure that there are three points of contact at all times e.g. two feet and one hand. Ensure that he feet of the ladder are on firm, stable land and where required the ladder is footed.
  • Use a torch when visiting the toilet at night and check under the toilet seat and inspect the area for spiders and snakes before using .

Emergency and Critical Incidents

In remote areas situations  can change quite suddenly from normal to emergency and critical. Due to difficulties associated with distance from medical or other help it is important to know in advance what to do and to act early in a situation to prevent it escalating further.

For volunteers working as part of a group, your supervisor will have a an Emergency  and Medical Contact List.

If you are volunteering as an individual/couple you will need to ask the farmer for emergency  and medical information when you arrive. 

This includes:

  • Contact numbers for Lifeline, Mental Health Help line, Emergency Services and State Emergency Services.
  • UHF radio channel information.
  • Contact details and opening hours for hospitals, medical centers and doctors in the area you are visiting.


  • Act early because it may take a while to get help.
  • Consider circumstances such as seeing a doctor on a Friday in order to prevent an injury or illness escalating to a more critical state over the weekend  when access to help is more difficult.
  • Notify the Outback Links National Volunteer Manager, however emergency services should be first port of call.

Mental Heath Crisis

In a mental health emergency or when life is in danger call police/fire/ambulance on  000.

For mental health crisis support call lifeline on  13 11 14.

Don’t take on situations which you cant manage or are not trained to deal with at a professional level.

Be courteous and friendly but not overly familiar –  maintain your boundaries to look after yourself and the person you are assisting.


  • Know when to ask for help and know when to walk away.

Working in the Heat and Sun

When working in the heat and sun you can be at risk of:

  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke
  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration


  • Schedule work for the early cooler hours and later hours of the day.
  • Provide water and shade.
  • Protect from the sun by using SPF 30+ sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and suitable clothing.
  • Monitor your wellbeing.
  • Drink sufficient water and know where there is a supply of drinking water at the work site(s) or bring a bottle of water with you if travelling around the property e.g. while fencing.
  • Have hydrolyte available at your work site and home base.


You can be at risk of fatigue when you:

  • Have insufficient rest during the day.
  • Have poor sleep at night.
  • Experience extreme weather conditions (heat, cold).
  • Have insufficient food intake.
  • If you are feeling  ill.
  • If you have insufficient water, resulting in dehydration.


  • Check sleeping arrangements and ensure they are adequate for good sleep.
  • Ensure you have had sufficient sleep.
  • Schedule rests in the work day.
  • Avoid working in the heat of the day or in extremes of hot or cold weather.
  • Schedule work in the cooler hours, and with regular rests.
  • Be aware of your own fatigue levels.
  • Take regular rest breaks throughout the day when working.
  • When driving be aware of personal driving capabilities and skills and do not exceed them.

Smoking, Recreational Drugs and Alcohol 


  • Do not smoke in an area which is smoke free.
  • Do not smoke around children.
  • Do not smoke in an area where food is being prepared or where people eat.
  • Smokers are asked to dispose of their cigarette butts responsibly.

Alcohol and recreational drugs

  • The use of recreational drugs is forbidden at all times during your Outback Links placement.
  • The use of alcohol while working is a also forbidden. Alcohol can only be consumed once all work has ceased for the day and  only if the farmer has given permission for alcohol to be consumed on their property. After work use of alcohol is to be responsible and in moderation.
  • Sobriety/safety checks will be undertaken if requested by your supervisor, volunteers are  not to work if deemed to be under influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • You must fit in with farming family request. e.g. if an alcohol free property do not bring alcohol to property or drink alcohol on property.
  • If you are found to be working under the influence of alcohol or drugs you will be terminated from the program.

Food Safety

  • If illness occurs, contact medical services immediately.
  • Check with local site whether water is potable. If needed, water for drinking should be boiled/bottled water.
  • Volunteer to carry personal first aid kit containing antibiotics and medication for gastric illness.
  • Advise on storing food in a cool area until ready to eat.
  • Use of clean utensils
  • Know appropriate fire safety precautions.


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