How to protect your vineyard and workforce during a hot dry summer

During Australia’s hot dry summers it is important that vineyard managers and grapegrowers have rigorous strategies in place to ensure the health and safety of not just their crops, but their workforce. And with this summer predicted to be hotter and drier than the average across most of the country, developing a plan is crucial.

Here are some top tips to take into consideration during the upcoming summer months.

Protect vines from infection

While reviewing your irrigation system and checking soil moisture are basic principles to follow in the lead up to summer, grapegrowers will also need to be watchful for eutypa infections. With dry seasonal conditions and limited soil moisture levels for premium red wine production, Australian vineyards tend to have high levels of infection.

Grapegrowers and viticulturists can familiarise themselves about the infection through Wine Australia’s Eutypa Dieback: Identification and Disease Cycle factsheet, so they are better able to identify it quickly and take action.

Hold regular toolbox talks

During a hot summer it’s not just a manager’s responsibility to ensure the health of your vines, but also that of staff.

It is important that employees, especially those working outside who are exposed to the elements, are made aware of some of the dangers associated with this kind of work and know how to act accordingly if they recognise signs of these in themselves or a colleague.

Heat stroke, dehydration and heat stress are all common risks associated with working outside. Performing regular ‘Toolbox Talks’ with staff about preventative measures can be extremely beneficial in giving them the knowledge to that will allow them to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.

Ensure easy access to water

One of the most important things to consider if your workforce is performing duties outside is to ensure that they have access to water, which is crucial when it comes to reducing the risk of dehydration and sun-related illness.

If staff are outside working amongst the vines for hours on end, have a plan in place that encourages them to continuously drink water throughout the day. This can be achieved in several ways, including having scheduled mandatory ‘drink breaks’, educating staff on rehydration, or designating an employee to bring staff water throughout the day.

Create a sun protection routine

Create a sun protection routine that sees employees applying sunscreen and wearing the correct protective clothing before staff begin work outside. This could include hats, sunglasses, or even having a summer uniform that allows for minimal skin exposure.

The Australian Taxation Office has recognised the importance of sun protection for outdoor workers so much so, that business owners can receive tax deductions for sunscreen, hats and sunglasses.

As a specialist recruiter for the wine industry, CozWine understands the importance of keeping your staff safe during the summer months, which is why we offer specialised workplace safety services. Our Consultants can ensure your workforce has access to training, information and tools that keep them safe. Contact CozWine today to find out more.