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Tractors and quad bikes behind rise in farm fatalities

Monday, 22 January, 2018 - 15:30
Industry news
National News

There was a rise in the annual number of on‐farm injury deaths in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to research by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (University of Sydney).

Overall, there were 68 deaths reported in the Australian media last year, according to centre director Dr Tony Lower.

Tractors (13) and quad bikes (11) were the leading causes of death, making up over 40 per cent of the total.

Tragically, 9 of the fatal cases (13 per cent) involved children aged under 15 years, with the involvement of quads accounting for one‐third (3) of these incidents.

There were a further 179 non‐fatal incidents highlighted in the media, with quad bikes involved in 39 (22 per cent) of the incidents.

“These non‐fatal cases are very important as often people will suffer significant injuries that have lifelong consequences,” said Lower.

“Planning for safety in the same way that you plan for your crops or stock will go a long way to reducing these incidents and the impacts they have,” said Lower.

His comments were echoed by WorkSafe Victoria, which recently urged rethinking safety approaches following a rise in the number of fatalities at work in 2017.

A total of 27 Victorians lost their lives as a result of an incident at a workplace last year – the highest toll since 2009.

This includes 14 deaths from incidents on farms, which is the highest number of farm fatalities since 2004.

While the circumstances of each fatality varied, the failure to identify and adequately manage hazards was a common theme, especially on farms and where vehicles were involved.

“Employers, particularly those using farm vehicles such as quad bikes, need to remind their workers to recognise risks and prioritise safety before attempting a task,” said WorkSafe Victoria’s head of operations and emergency management, Adam Watson.

He also said older workers continued to be over-represented in the statistics.

“Age and experience can never be an excuse to forget about safety.

“Nine of the people who died last year were over the age of 65, and 23 were aged 45 or older.

“Many of those who died were doing tasks they have done many times before, so it is important that everyone takes the time to plan their day with safety in mind,” said Watson.