Farm vehicles and machinery behind most farm fatalities

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 21 August, 2022 - 12:15
Industry news
National News

The two main causes of farm fatalities from 2001 to 2020 were farm vehicles (39 per cent) and machinery (26 per cent), according to a recent research paper.

It found that tractors accounted for the most fatalities on farms (15.8 per cent) followed by quad bikes (all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, at 12.3 per cent), while other sources of on-farm fatalities included farm structures (11.4 per cent), animals 8.2 per cent and the working environment (7.3 per cent).

Furthermore, workers aged over 55 years were involved in 58 per cent of all work-related incidents and were significantly more likely to die than younger cohorts when assessed against hours worked.

Death rates involving all on-farm fatal incidents (both work and non-work) per 10,000 farms and work-related rates per 100 000 workers reduced over the period 2000-2021, while there was no change in the work-related rates when assessed against hours worked.

The annualised number of deaths fell by approximately 24 per cent, and general trends suggest a reduction in the overall death rates for work and non-work incidents, according to the research paper, Farm-related injury deaths in Australia (2001-2020).

“While agricultural outputs continue to grow in Australia, there is a need to reinvigorate steps to reduce farm deaths and injuries,” the paper said.

“As per previous assessments, there is a disproportionate burden associated with farm vehicles and machinery that requires addressing.”

Similarly, the representation of older persons (55+ years) in the data, in conjunction with an ageing farmer population, provides a clear focus for attention.

“Failure to directly address these issues will result in little to no improvement in the health and safety record for the agricultural sector, which has significant impacts on individuals, families, businesses and whole communities,” the paper said.