More work needs to be done to keep farms safer

The number of people losing their lives from on-farm incidents has significantly decreased in the past 25 years but there is more work to be done to make farms safer.

This is the message from the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Farmsafe Australia at the start of Farm Safety Week 2017.

Farmsafe Australia Chair and NFF’s Workplace Committee Chair, Charles Armstrong said the yearly average of lives lost from farm incidents had decreased from 146 in 1991 to 63 in 2016.

“However, one life lost is one too many, and we must all take greater responsibility for improving the safety of our farms.”

Figures released last week by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety reported that since the beginning of the year to June 30, tragically 32 people have lost their lives in on-farm incidents and a further 101 have been involved in non-fatal incidents that were serious enough to make the media.

“Already, as of 30 June, we have seen 32 tragic deaths resulting from injuries sustained in quad bike and farm machinery incidents,” Mr Armstrong said.

"We must act now to turn these statistics around."

Mr Armstrong said the theme of Farm Safety Week 2017 was ‘creating a resilient, safe and healthy ag community'.

“Having safety as a major aspect of the farm business will not only reduce risks to those who work and live on our farms, it will also improve our bottom line and create a resilient, safe and healthy ag community,” he said.

“We want to see every farm across Australia take steps to improve safety each and every day.”

Practical steps that farmers can take to improve safety include:

- Develop a safety plan that identifies potential hazards and taking specific actions to fix these.

- Always be on the look-out for new hazards and fixing these as soon as possible once identified.

- Set clear safety procedures for risky work.

- Ensure everyone that works on the farm understands and uses the safety procedures you have for your farm.

- Develop and communicate an emergency plan in case of any incidents.

- As a matter of urgency, fit a crush protection device to quad bikes and always wear a helmet.

“We want farming to be both profitable and safe, and we can do this if safety is promoted as a core value of farm businesses,” Mr Armstrong said.

“It’s about making sure that everyone involved in the farm gets home safe and sound at the end of each working day.”

That’s a good thing, not just for our families, but also our businesses and communities.”

Farm Safety Week runs from 17-21 July 2017.