Farm safety gains traction – but much more work to do

Grain Central, April 30, 2019

TRACTORS and quad bikes remain the leading causes of injury on Australian farms but deaths from both vehicles have declined significantly since 2017, according to new research.

The AgriFutures Australia-funded work shows fatal accidents caused by tractors fell from 13 to nine and deaths involving quads fell from 11 to six in the 12 months from 2017 to 2018.

AgriFutures Australia managing director, John Harvey, said the number of farming-related deaths remained alarming.

“While some progress has been made in specific areas, the overall numbers are telling us that more still needs to be done,” Mr Harvey said.

“We know the impact of accidents across Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries is significant. Australia’s RDCs have a renewed focus on reshaping, refocusing and regrouping to address the issue.”

AgriFutures funds research into enhancing farm health and safety under its National Rural Issues Program and is lead agency for the newly-formed RDC-funded Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA).

“The RSHA will clarify research, development and extension priorities based on risk, provide stronger accountability for funders and funding recipients to deliver a return on investment, support practical extension, and underpin clear and visible leadership across the agricultural sector.”

The report, Non-intentional Farm Related Incidents in Australia, was developed using data collected by AgHealth Australia’s National Farm Injury Coronial Database, based at the University of Sydney.

RSHA chair, Patrick Murphy pointed out that while there is a huge social cost associated with fatal on-farm injuries, there is also a significant economic impact which is estimated to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr Murphy said the cost included factors such as loss of earnings, insurance payouts, work cover and police investigations, coronial costs, premature funeral costs, ambulance and hospital expenditure and loss of household contributions.

“While the figures are clearly shocking and the number of deaths in the sector needs to be urgently addressed, this research gives us a clear understanding of where the trouble spots are,” Mr Murphy said.

The research shows nearly 90 per cent of farm-related accidents since 2001 involved males, with close to 50pc of all reported accidents involving men over 50 years. Tractors, quads, motorbikes and horses accounted for almost half of all farm accidents.

“Equally concerning is that nearly 15pc of deaths involved children under 15 years and farm vehicles including cars, motorbikes and utilities were the leading cause of these fatal accidents,” Mr Murphy said.

Sources: AgriFutures Australia, RSHA.




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