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VIC & NSW: farmers urged to put safety first as fatalities soar

Thursday, 20 July, 2017 - 09:45
Industry news

Victorian farmers are being urged to make safety a critical part of their daily routine after eight people have died in workplace incidents on farms across the state over the past six months.

Of the eight farm-related fatalities so far this year:

  • Tractors have been involved in four deaths
  • Seven fatalities have involved workers aged over 40
  • The oldest person was 68, and the youngest was 38

The eight fatalities already equal the total number of farmers and workers killed on farms in Victoria last year.

The toll also makes up more than half of the 15 workplace deaths that have occurred in Victoria so far in 2017.

The toll should make everyone in agriculture think carefully about the risks involved in farm activities and plan accordingly, said WorkSafe Victoria’s executive director of health and safety, Marnie Williams,

“Agriculture is a high-risk industry but that should never mean fatalities and injuries are accepted as part of the job,” Williams said.

“However, it makes it essential that that the risks involved in every task must be planned for and the work carried out accordingly.”

Williams said WorkSafe research had revealed that the majority of farm fatalities were experienced farmers doing activities they had done many times before.

“Farmers should never think that experience will prevent accidents,” Williams said.

“As we see year after year, it’s often experienced farmers doing everyday tasks that fail to come home at the end of the day.

“That is why it is critical to take a few moments before the day gets underway to think about how to do each and every job safely. Any measure that could help prevent tragedy is worth it.”

Similarly, recent figures released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety indicate that 32 people lost their lives in on-farm incidents for the first six months of 2017 and a further 101 have been involved in non-fatal incidents that were serious enough to make the media.

“Figures show more than 50 per cent (seventeen) of the fatal incidents occurred on a farm in New South Wales, two of which involved children.

“New South Wales also recorded the second highest number of non-fatal incidents” said Centre director Dr Tony Lower.

“Disturbingly more than double the amount of non-fatal incidents were reported than last year’s period.

“We know that there are highly effective ways to control risks and prevent needless deaths and injuries.”

“Farm owners/managers need to visibly demonstrate good work health and safety practices which will set a precedence and influence their employees to follow suit.

Consistent with previous years, Lower said quad bikes remain the leading cause of fatal injury accounting for 9 cases (28 per cent), with two of these involving children.

“Quads have also dominated the non-fatal injuries reported, many of which have lifelong consequences,” he said.