Report shows a decrease in on-farm deaths

While the number of people dying on Australia farms for the first nine months of 2017 is slightly lower than the corresponding period in 2016, quads and tractors remain the leading cause of death.

From January 1 2017 to September  30, 2017, there were a total of 45 fatal on-farm cases, according to figures released by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety.

The figure is slightly lower than the corresponding period in 2016, when 47 on-farm fatalities were reported.

The report focuses predominantly on data involving on‐farm injury events reported in the Australian print and online media for the 9 month period.

There were approximately 28,900 media articles received by the NFIDC from Meltwater during the period and a total of 45 on‐farm deaths were reported.

The state of NSW had the most on-farm deaths with 19 fatalities, followed by 14 in Victoria and 7 in Queensland.

There were three on-farm deaths in Western Australia and one death each in South Australia and Tasmania.

The Northern Territory recorded no on-farm deaths in that period. 

Six of the 45 deaths involved a child aged under 15 years.

There were 10 quad bike related on-farm deaths, followed by tractors with 8.

Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety centre director Dr Tony Lower said while the death figures are slightly lower than the same time last year it was still “tragic”.

“However, while that is tragic in itself the figures are only a very small part of the issue, as behind every one of these cases there is an individual, a family and a community that has to manage the unnecessary loss of a loved one or friend in the case of a death,” he said.

“Or for many of those that are injured and survive, they need to learn to manage with lifelong disabling injuries.”

Dr Lower said the consequences are far reaching for everyone concerned and that the vast majority of cases could be prevented.

“While quad manufacturers always point to rider error to avoid any implications regarding the safety of their product, with over 60 per cent of deaths in Australia involving rollovers, the lack of a lateral stability standard and crush protection means not only do they roll all too easily, but when they do, the consequences are often fatal,” he said.

“Because of these design flaws, the margin of error for riding quads is so small that it all too often ends in tragedy.

“We strongly encourage farmers to use other safer vehicles or if continuing to use a quad, then to ensure a crush protection device is fitted, wear a helmet and follow basic riding safety practices.”

An additional 144 non‐fatal on‐farm injury events were reported in the Australian media during that 9 month period.

The overall number of non‐fatal on‐farm cases of 144 in that period is more than double the corresponding period in 2016 with 61.

Nineteen of the 144 injury events involved children aged under 15 years.

There were 31 off-farm quad related injuries, which accounted for over 21 per cent of all incidents. Followed by 22 horse related incidents, 14 motorcycle related incidents and 16 cattle related incidents.

For quads, there were 28 additional injuries that occurred off‐farm.