The statistics for injury and death on Australian farms are still distressingly high.
A sizeable proportion of the 32 per cent of people who live in rural and remote areas work in agriculture. The goal of Farm Safety Week (15-20 July) is to increase public awareness of the importance of making and keeping them safe and healthy.
There have been big reductions in the number of fatal accidents on farms in the last 20 years, but there is still a need to raise awareness about how to mitigate the dangers of agriculture. Critically, the potential danger to children on farms is of particular concern.
According to Farmsafe Australia, common risks of coming to harm on farms are toddlers wandering off, children playing unsupervised near work going on, and children being near livestock, machinery or vehicles. Drowning is the leading cause of death of children on farms, especially for children under five, followed by quad bike accidents.
In the past two years quad bikes have overtaken tractors as the leading cause of fatal injuries on farms. Over half of these deaths are because the quad bike rolled over. They are unstable, even on flat ground, and roll-overs often result in severe injury or death from crushing and asphyxiation.
Fitting a crush protection device to a quad bike reduces the likelihood of injury or death from a roll-over. Also quad bikes are often not the most appropriate vehicle for the task at hand; a tractor, ute or motorbike may be better, as well as less dangerous.
For further information on quad bike safety see the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (02 6752 8210) or the website www.aghealth.org.au and also Farmsafe Australia at www.farmsafe.org.au
Information on farm safety as well as rural health in general can also be found on the National Rural Health Alliance website at www.ruralhealth.org.au
Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660