Cropping

When seasoned farmers narrowly avoid injury, it’s time to stop and think

Wayne Johnston, October 18, 2016


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THIS year’s WorkSafe Month has really hit home with me.

In the last month alone I know of at least three seasoned farmers who have narrowly missed being seriously injured, if not killed, in the course of work on their farms.

Fortunately, none of these blokes were badly hurt, but nor were they doing anything wrong nor out of the ordinary, just going about their daily business of being a farmer.

As at the start of this month more than 130 people have been killed in Australian workplaces so far this year. Thirty-four of those have been in our sector. That’s 34 farming families whose loved one didn’t come home from work. Even worse, for 2015, it was 54.

Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?

It does not matter how many years or decades you have been using the equipment, how old or new your equipment is, it all needs to be treated with respect.

We have all been guilty of being in a hurry, and no doubt have taken short cuts or not followed a safe procedure.

Yes, you may get away with that nine out of 10 times, sadly it is the tenth time that kills or maims you.

And to make matters worse, it appears that we haven’t been getting the message.

The fatality rate for agricultural workers is falling slower than the national rate.

Between 2003 and 2014, the fatality rate for agricultural workers fell by 24 per cent, while the fatality rate for all industries fell by 41pc.

For the sake of our industry and our families it’s important that we take the time to listen to this message, it’s even more important that we take the time to implement appropriate safety strategies on our farms.

Be vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, don’t let a mundane task be the death of you.

Know your machinery. Tools and equipment that you only use sporadically should be checked and maintained during the off season to ensure that it is right to roll come the time that you need them.

For example, taking the time to pop the bonnet and check for rodent and bird damage could be all it takes to avoid a costly, and potentially life threatening, tractor fire.

WorkSafe month runs for all of October. There are a variety of activities and forums being run as well as some great online resources.

Visit http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/media-events/safety-month or www.worksafe.tas.gov.au for more information.

  • Wayne Johnston is the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association president and a third generation farmer in the Meander Valley.

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