Cutting corners is no way to cut costs


As a sharemilker at a low payout time, it’s a constant battle to decide where to save money and what to cut out of your system.
Several of these decisions have come back to bite us this season, but the main one has been the decision to take on more work ourselves, not use relief staff or contractors.
Due to the extra pressure we put on ourselves, I was in a rush to finish levelling an area across a fairly steep slope. I had the levelling bar on the back of the tractor, followed by the harrows and then the roller. This was too much weight for our tractor on a hill _ yet another attempt to save time and money.
It was too steep to go across the slope, too heavy to go up, so I came down. This was poor judgement, blurred by exhaustion and being in too much of a rush to assess the risk thoroughly.
Due to the unanticipated wet ground and the leverage affect of the trailed roller, the roller slipped down and round, jack-knifing with the tractor.
It caused the tractor to flip over on to its roof and then back on its wheels. I was extremely lucky to be able to walk away from the accident.
Still, I had concussion, head stitches, broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung, meaning a few days in hospital and a week off milking.
Within 40 minutes of an ambulance being called, WorkSafe tried to contact us and an investigation started the following day. Two officers interviewed my wife while I was in hospital and then spent over an hour inspecting the accident site.
Fortunately, we had put together a health and safety policy (mainly using and we could show we had procedures in place.
WorkSafe officers tried hard to put us at ease, and emphasised their aim was to work with farmers to prevent future accidents rather than punish them.
They returned when the tractor was recovered and conducted a formal, recorded interview with us. We are still waiting to hear their conclusions, but they have reassured us we are unlikely to be prosecuted.
In the end, we had to use contractors to finish the work, as well as bear the extra cost of child care, a relief milker, painkillers and a new tractor. Thank goodness we didn’t cut back on insurance.
Please don’t forget you are the most valuable asset in your business. Putting yourself under too much pressure will only ever cost you, at the very least, more money.
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