Agriculture one of Australia's most dangerous industries

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

The industry comprising of agriculture, forestry and fishery is one of the most dangerous in Australia, with six workers fatally injured at work in the year-to-date 2019, according to Safe Work Australia.

It currently has the highest number of preliminary fatalities in that period, followed by the transport, postal and warehousing industry with five deaths and four in construction.

According to Safe Work Australia, the number of worker deaths listed is based on initial media reports and is a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working.

In 2018, Safe Work Australia’s preliminary data shows there were 47 workers fatally injured at work in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.

A Safe Work Australia spokesperson said the nature of the work in the agriculture industry means it is a high risk industry and is reflected by the comparatively high rates of both worker fatalities and serious workers’ compensation claims.

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"For this reason, the Agriculture industry is identified as a priority industry under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022," the spokesperson said.

"Agriculture, fisheries and forestry are some of the most dangerous industries to work in due to a combination of hazards.

"Workers are often exposed to hazards such as plant, animals, chemicals, risk of falling objects, falls from height, noise, dust and hazardous manual tasks. Workers are also more likely to work alone, in remote locations and in all kinds of weather."

Tony Williams, Executive Director of SafeWork NSW said there are a number of simple precautions workers in the agriculture industry can undertake to avoid injury or death.

"SafeWork NSW works with the industry to ensure workers understand their rights and responsibilities in work health and safety," Mr Williams said.

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"This includes education and training of workers and site managers, regular risk assessment and workplace inspections and understanding of the relevant code of practice.”

Mr Williams said farmers should concentrate on farm issues that present most significant risk such as ensuring quad bikes are operated safely including keeping children off them and wearing helmets.

He also said farmers should ensure all farm machinery has guarding in place and that machinery is maintained, chemicals are stored and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, and that risks of electric shock whether from overhead power lines or in farm buildings is guarded against.