WA: agricultural industry inquiry report released

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, 30 April, 2023 - 12:30
Policy & legislation
Western Australia

A specialist agricultural team of inspectors and liaison officers and an advisory service should be established to conduct inspections, attend industry events and develop advisory material for the industry in Western Australia, according to the WorkSafe WA Commissioner’s independent inquiry report into the agricultural industry.

The report also recommended that steps be taken to raise industry awareness of safety with the participation of industry groups, including specific agricultural industry web pages and the utilisation of public events to educate farmers.

With the release of the report, the Commissioner has indicated his support for the majority of the recommendations, however, two have been noted as they will require further work or consultation if the State Government wishes to progress them.

The inquiry was conducted last year by former Chief Industrial Relations Commissioner Pamela Scott when WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh called for it in June after the twelfth workplace death in the industry over the preceding 12 months.

The report also recommended that a suite of codes of practice and guidance notes directed to the agricultural industry be developed, written as simple “how-to” and “how-not-to” documents, and that timely information be given to the industry about the causes of fatalities and serious injuries.

A total of 62 written submissions to the inquiry were received and Scott held community meetings in person across the State and a series of webinars for those who could not attend in person.

The result is a comprehensive report on health and safety in the agricultural industry that presents the findings and delivers eight recommendations that have been supported or noted by the WorkSafe Commissioner and Director General of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

“I called for the independent inquiry because I was increasingly concerned with the number of deaths in the industry. The statistics were not acceptable and I was concerned that the number of deaths had continued to increase,” Kavanagh said.

“I was concerned that in some Agricultural workplaces, the workplace culture seemed to accept much greater risk than any other industry, with farm production appearing to be put before the safety of families and workers.”