Farm Safety Week urges farmers to reflect and better protect

There were 13 on-farm deaths caused by tractors and 11 on-farm deaths as a result of quad bikes in 2017. Photo: Taylor Jurd.

There were 13 on-farm deaths caused by tractors and 11 on-farm deaths as a result of quad bikes in 2017. Photo: Taylor Jurd.

This week farmers, their families and workers are encouraged to reflect on how to better protect Australia’s farm community.

From July, 16 to 22 is national Farm Safety Week and the theme for this year is ‘Innovative, Safe and Healthy.’

A total of 68 on-farm deaths over 12 months were recorded in 2017, five fatalities higher than the previous year, according to the Australian Farm Deaths and Injuries Media Monitors Snapshot.

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Nine of the 68 deaths involved a child aged under 15 years.

There were 13 on-farm deaths caused by tractors and 11 on-farm deaths as a result of quad bikes. An additional 179 non-fatal on-farm injuries recorded in 2017.

The safety campaign hopes to raise awareness of farm safety issues in rural communities across the nation.

Farm Safe Australia chairman Charles Armstrong said farm safety is something we often take for granted, but no one wants to be injured to see others injured.

“For farmers, Farm Safety Week, is a chance to take stock, and consider our safety and welling and that of our family, farm workers and farm visitors,” he said.

"These are things we often take for granted, but when something goes wrong, there can be life-altering and all too often, life-ending, consequences."

The NSW agriculture sector continues to be one of the state’s highest risk industries with more than 7,300 workers compensation claims from 2014/15 – 2016/17, which came at a cost of $167 million to the NSW workers compensation system.

From June 2014 to the same time this year, there were also 35 fatal incidents on NSW farms. 

SafeWork NSW Executive Director, Tony Williams said SafeWork NSW was working alongside the agriculture sector, and supply chain to help drive down the rate of fatalities. 

“The farming sector is vital to the NSW economy, but with 99 per cent of NSW either in drought onset, drought watch or drought affected, SafeWork NSW is very mindful of the challenges farmers face,” Mr Williams said.

“Through our Agriculture Work Health and Safety Sector Plan, we are working with the agriculture sector to keep farmers, workers, and their families safe.

“We’re doing this by developing products and services that are simple, practical and affordable.”

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Mr Williams said SafeWork NSW was implementing a number of initiatives that are having a positive impact on farm safety.

“Quad bikes are the leading cause of death on NSW farms and SafeWork NSW is leading the way both in NSW and nationally to improve quad bike safety,” he said.

“In 2018/19 SafeWork NSW will increase its investment in its successful Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program to $3.7 million.

Since its launch, farmers have invested more than $21.4 million dollars in safety improvements.

Mr Williams said SafeWork is also a national leader in equine safety, delivering more than 20 workshops across the state on working safely with horses.

“We want all farmers to come home safely at the end of the working day, and that’s why we’ll continue implementing more initiatives to make NSW farms as safe as possible,” he said.

Free farm safety information and guidance material can be accessed on the Farmsafe Australia website at www.farmsafe.org.au