RUNOVERS have eclipsed rollovers as the major cause of tractor-related deaths in Australia, and the theme of this week’s National Farm Safety Week is urging people to Stay on the Safe Side of tractors and other machinery.
National Farm Safety Week started yesterday, and the 2023 campaign has tractor and machinery safety as its focus.
The Farmsafe Australia initiative says legislation and rollover protection have reduced rollover deaths by 70 percent.
“Runovers are now the number one cause of tractor fatalities and often occur when a safety system was circumvented,” Farmsafe Australia said in a statement.
The organisation has also warned operators not to try to start tractors from the ground, or when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Its three tips for improved tractor safety are:
- Always put the tractor in park prior to dismounting;
- Clip your seatbelt around you, not behind you; and,
- Ensure older tractors are fitted with rollover protection devices.
Farmsafe Australia said agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in.
“In 2022, 55 farmers lost their lives on farm.
“This Farm Safety Week, we’d love you to be part of our endeavours by joining us to promote farm safety.”
In 2022, tractors, quads and side-by-sides continued to dominate as agents of fatality on farm, and Farmsafe Australia will be releasing information throughout the third week of July about the safe use of farm plant and machinery.
Call for state support
In its Safer Farms 2023 report released this week, Farmsafe Australia said 20
22 showed a significant decrease in injuries and fatalities as caused by both recreational and work-related incidents.
“This year we see the statistics return to higher levels,” the report said.
“We need to do something drastically different to see long-term results.
“We need more awareness, we need more education.
“We need long-term behavioural change.”
The Victorian Government’s $20-million Smarter Safer Farms initiative was announced in 2018, and further funding for it has been announced today to fund it beyond June 30 this year.
The initiative included the Making Our Farms Safer project, which received positive feedback from Victorian Farmers Federation members.
MOFS provided a range of safety resources available for farmers to download for free that addressed gaps in farmer knowledge on topics ranging from the safe use of telehandlers on farms to the
safe storage and handling of chemicals.
The Victorian Government has today announced further funding for the MOFS project.
VFF president Emma Germano said the project’s immediate focus will be on farmers aged 60 years and over to help lower their overrepresentation in farming deaths and injuries.
“Farmers aged over 60 years tragically account for more than 40pc of deaths on farms throughout the country.”
“Last year, six people aged over 60 lost their lives on Victorian farms.
“That’s someone’s mother, father or friend that can never be replaced.
“We hope this project will help ensure loved ones come home at the end of the day.”
“With the help of a working committee consisting of older farmers and their adult children, the project will develop specific content and resources, such as a guidebook and monthly newsletters to help make Victorian farms safer.”
“Farmers and our regional communities told us loud and clear how important this project was to them, and I welcome the government’s commitment to helping us keep farmers safe,” Ms Germano said.
The shift in focus towards farmers aged 60 years and over, expands on the success of the recent VFF MOFS Making Our Farm Families Safer campaign, which has worked to change attitudes and improve the safety of children aged 10-15 on farms.
“Since launching in mid-2022 and running until June this year, the campaign’s videos were viewed more than 110,000 times and 76pc of people surveyed said their commitment to farm safety had increased as a result of the campaign.”
“Change takes time and it’s through projects such these and the dedicated staff delivering them that we’re starting to see the dial move towards ensuring all preventable injury and deaths on farms don’t happen.”
A survey on the Making Our Farm Familers safer campaign found 76pc of responses stated they had reconsidered the tasks they gave to working-aged children on their farms.
Packs for kids
Among the companies to spread the word about farm safety this week is BASF Australia, which in partnership with AgLink Australia has unveiled the latest iteration of its free Safety Champs program to help promote child safety on farms.
BASF said farm safety for children remained a key issue across the Australian agricultural community, with 18pc of injury events on farms in 2022 involving children under the age of 15.
Preparing and delivering 700 Safety Champs packs to farming families across the nation, the initiative reminds Australians that farms are family homes where children can encounter potentially dangerous hazards, as well as workplaces.
Safety Champs packs are targeted at children aged 5-10 years, and have been designed to help parents and caregivers facilitate conversations with them about farm safety in a fun and educational way.
Items in each pack include a child-sized safety vest and earmuffs, printable activity sheets, and an Our Farm Safety Pledge for families to complete together.
Source: Farmsafe Australia, BASF, AgLink Australia