Silver Fern Farms is a leading New Zealand processor, marketer and exporter of premium quality lamb, beef, venison and associated products. It operates 14 plants across New Zealand and employs more than 7000 staff in the peak of the season.
The company is committed to developing and funding its health and safety professionals to a tertiary level qualification.
Silver Fern Farms Head of Sustainability Justin Courtney said a fundamental element of the company’s strategy is to achieve industry-leading safety, quality and sustainability outcomes.
A professional development programme has been put in place, providing a framework for building leadership within the existing health and safety team.
Justin said the framework provides targeted steps to support and develop health and safety practitioners into professionals with a comprehensive understanding of health and safety as well as tertiary level qualifications.
“Traditionally the approach had been that people in health and safety roles learnt by experience.
“Silver Fern Farms takes a proactive approach, by enhancing the role within our organisation and giving our people specific knowledge and skills.
“SIT2LRN offers our people the opportunity to develop professionally while continuing to work full time across New Zealand,” he said.
“Two of our health professionals have already completed the Diploma in Health and Safety Management (Level 6) distance learning programme and we have another six staff currently enrolled. The diploma is recognised within the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ), and it’s important to us to have our health and safety professionals in a position to become HASANZ registered.”
There is an ever-growing demand for health and safety professionals and Silver Fern Farms has already seen significant benefits from investing in the development of its staff, Justin said.
Justin believes that this programme is a great example of how it is possible to effectively elevate and support the professional role of health and safety representatives in the workplace.
Cat Kiel, from the Rotorua plant, is one of the staff who has completed the diploma, and was positive about her experience with SIT2LRN.
“I had a practical grasp on how to do my job, but when I started doing the diploma it gave me insight into what it all means, it started joining the dots together.”