AGRICULTURE, whilst a rewarding industry to work in, is also one of the most dangerous.
The sector employs less than three percent of Australia’s total workforce, but accounts for 23 percent of all workplace fatalities.
This week marks Farm Safety Week, a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of farm safety issues and highlight practical steps farmers can take to improve work health and safety on farms.
Assistant agriculture minister Luke Hartsuyker said farm safety should be a priority for everyone in the sector.
“From vehicular and tractor safety, to working with chemicals and animals, to dealing with stress and mental health issues or the safety of older farmers and children—farming can be a high risk job.
“National Farm Safety Week is an important opportunity to start a dialogue—both at home and in the workplace—across the farming sector and in regional communities.
“While the government will continue to work closely with industry and peak work safe bodies to address farm safety, it is everybody’s responsibility to ensure farm health and safety is treated as a priority and that proactive steps are taken to recognise warning signs and mitigate any risks.
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“One of 2017 National Farm Safety Week’s main focuses is quad and vehicle safety, given tractors, other machinery and quad bikes are the leading causes of deaths on farms.
“In 2016, quad bikes accounted for the highest number of overall agricultural deaths and injuries. Tragically, already this year we have seen a number of farmers killed while riding quad bikes.
“This is why the Australian Government is working with state and territory governments to improve quad bike safety to create a safer working environment for all farmers and rural workers.”
115 people have lost their lives on quad bikes in Australia since 2011, and almost two-thirds of those have occurred on farms.
Of the nine quad bike fatalities that have occurred this year already, over half involved rollovers, and two were children (aged 16 and under).
“One of the most effective ways to prevent quad bike injuries and deaths is to critically assess if a quad bike is the right vehicle for the job,” Safe Work Australia chief executive officer, Michelle Baxter, said.
“Side-by-side vehicles may be more suitable in rural workplaces where the operator stays seated, and generally has rollover protection structures and restraints like seat belts.”
By taking the necessary precautions, you could be eligible for a rebate in your state. Work health and safety regulators in New South Wales(link is external) and Victoria(link is external) are currently running programs to improve quad bike safety, including rebates for quad bike training and buying alternative vehicles.
- For more information on 2017 National Farm Safety Week visit farmsafe.org.au/Farm-Safety-Week.
- To find out how best to keep yourself, your workers and your family safe in your jurisdiction, contact your local regulator.