AgTech meets RegTech in health and safety apps

Published on the 04/10/2018 | Written by Heather Wright

Health and Safety on farm app

And now insurance is about to join the party…

Mobile apps for health and safety on the farm are a growing market. Now one company is taking them a step further, with plans to use their offering to bring its users lower insurance premiums.

Zero Harm Farm, which offers a risk management software-as-a-service platform, is currently in discussions with Australian agriculture insurance companies about partnerships which would see those using Zero Harm Farm receiving lower insurance premiums for adhering to good health and safety practices.

“Jerry down the road who does nothing gets the same premium as Mike up the road who is really engaged in health and safety.”

Mark Orr, Zero Harm Farm co-founder and general manager, says people who are working hard on health and safety don’t receive any tangible benefits – other than potentially preventing accidents – with good health and safety practice not reflected in insurance premiums.

“Jerry down the road who does nothing gets the same premium as Mike up the road who is really engaged in health and safety,” Orr says.

While the company has 4,500 users across 800 sites in Australia and New Zealand, Orr says paying for a health and safety SaaS offering is still an overhead cost.

“If we can deliver it as something that will drive productivity and safety and save people money, that makes a lot of sense.

Zero Harm Farms plans will see it partner with insurance companies, initially covering Australia and New Zealand, and delivery platform partners who can push the application out to customers. Zero Harm Farms’ software-as-a-service platform would potentially be offered free.

Orr says Zero Harm Farms already has most of the information required for insurance claims when customers fill out incident reports in the Zero Harm Farms app, making it simple to then provide that information on to an insurance company when required.

And the insurance company?

“Not all our customers are going to be insured by the one insurer, so we give our insurance partner the opportunity to make a connection with our customer.” Customers, Orr adds, who present a lower risk because of their health and safety focus.

Zero Harm Farms would be paid by the insurer for the service, ‘in a nice transparent way’.

Orr says the insurer, who will ideally also be an equity partner, could also utilise data as part of the process of assessing risk, because Zero Harm Farms has information from the aggregated site about what best practice looks like.

Orr is currently in Australia, with an invitation-only equity raising round currently underway. The company has previously secured funding from SproutX and Artesian.

“We’re also working really closely with a lead investor in New Zealand which will give us access to thousands of customers which will help us drive this home in the NZ market as well,” he says.

Zero Harm Farm is just one of a number of health and safety offerings for the agricultural sector.

Last week New Zealand’s largest farmer owned rural supply cooperative, Farmlands, and software company FarmIQ launched an application which will be provided free to Farmland’s 68,000 shareholders.

SafeFarm currently records hazards, tracks incidents and marks the location of emergency equipment along with providing tasks and inventory information.

Andrew Horsbrugh, Farmland director of agri products and services and FarmIQ board member, says a module to induct and monitor farm visitors, SafeVisit, will be added within a couple of months.

“The traditional way of having a paper based system sitting on the shelf above a desk where you only sit when it’s raining or at night is just too far removed from the everyday activities happening on farms,” Horsbrugh says.

By providing it in the form of apps, he says health and safety can become part of their everyday life, providing on the go functionality.

“If you see a hazard, you can capture it there and then, you don’t have to take a note to remind yourself to formalise the detailing of it, or the mitigation of the issue, that night. And it’s real time so it’s available to others on the farm as well,” he says.

Horsbrugh says SafeFarm’s integration into FarmIQ’s wider farm management offerings ensures farmers can have all their information in one place.

“One of the challenges farms have is that they have data sets all over the place, and that’s a big challenge. All that information together in one place will enable farmers to make better decisions and manage things easier, but also to provide traceability.”

David Clarke, Safety Institute of Australia CEO, says there are increasing numbers of platforms for health and safety, based around either compliance or education.

“Compliance platforms don’t automatically produce safer workplaces. It’s not about ticking boxes. The big opportunity with apps these days is about the way they engage, particularly with younger people.

“App developers around H&S, like any other space are searching for increasingly more effective ways to engage. You might have a reader on your phone and you wave it over a code on a piece of machinery and up comes a video on the healthy and safe use of that equipment.”

Adds Worksafe New Zealand agriculture engagement lead Al McCone: WorkSafe engagement lead for agriculture Al McCone: “Health and safety apps can be a great tool – but it is not about whether visitors or contractors have checked in or out of a property, but the quality of information being passed between the farmer and a visitor, and how it is helping to manage risks on the farm.

“Mobile apps can play an important part in the two-way communication required to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.”

Unsurprisingly, he says how effective they are is determined by the quality of the information passed through them and the attention paid to that information by the recipient. “If a farmer doesn’t tell the fertiliser truck driver about the soft spot on the slope in the paddock, no app will be good enough.”

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