The Safer Farms 2020 Report, launched yesterday by Farmsafe Australia, discusses trends in agricultural injury and fatality and has underlined the fact that farms are still Australia’s most dangerous workplaces, and quad bikes are the main cause.
Discussing the key elements of the report, AIHS CEO David Clarke said “This year, the data tells us that we’re on track to break a ten year record that nobody would want to break – people dying in the conduct of their work on farms. This is incredibly frustrating because it's largely preventable, and has been for years. Quad bikes are killing and maiming Australian farmers and their families more than any other item of machinery in any industry.”
“The report recognises that this isn’t just a trend – it’s a consistent, ongoing issue for the past decade and beyond, and it’s not getting better. It also demonstrates that the impact isn’t just on the farmers themselves but their families as well. 15% of fatalities in the last ten years have been children under 15, and virtually all of those deaths have been on quad bikes” he said.
Mr Clarke bemoaned the fact that proven engineering solutions to reduce harm from quad bikes have been resisted at every turn. “For years a number of companies through the supply chain for quad bikes have fought against the regulation of the use of roll bars. There’s no simpler way to say this: roll bars make quad bikes safer. Yes, there are cost issues but we have to ask ourselves, how much do we value the lives of Australian farmers?”
Mr Clarke called on regulatory authorities to take firm and immediate action on rollover protection. “If this problem existed in any other industry, it would have been engineered out of existence years ago. So again we must ask, as a community - and the governments that lead us and regulate workplace health and safety - how culpable are we in these deaths when we continue to choose year after year not to apply regulation that we know will reduce death, paraplegia/quadriplegia and other serious permanent injuries? ”
The report also addresses a number of cultural and other challenges unique to the farming sector, which create ongoing risks for the farming community, and calls on the farming sector to work together on these issues.
“I commend this report to anyone who works in the field of farming, and to the regulatory authorities who have the power to make a difference. It’s time we got serious about this issue" he said.
The Safer Farms 2020 Report can be found here.