Our farms and farm families can be safer still

19 July 2012

This is National Farm Safety Week, with this year’s theme being Farm safety: Fix it for everyone.

The past 20 years have seen a drop in the number of deaths due to on-farm injury from around 146 a year to 60 in 2011. This is great news - but even more can be done. Quad bike fatalities buck this trend, with 23 quad bike fatalities nationally in 2011, compared with an average of 13 a year between 2001 and 2010.

Children are particularly at risk of accident on farms, with children under 15 years of age being involved in 17 per cent of all farm injury deaths.

Tackling health and safety in Australia’s farming, fishing and forestry is an important part of productivity improvement, and also vital for improving the welfare of those involved. It is still a major issue to be addressed by primary industries in Australia.

Agriculture has lagged behind other industries of high OH&S risk in terms of improvements in safety performance, reduction of worker’s compensation claims rates and numbers of deaths.

Improvements in farm safety are being led by Farmsafe Australia (www.farmsafe.org.au).
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) is leading an important collaborative partnership that is also working in this area. That collaboration is the major investor in research on effective health and safety programs in Australia’s farming and fishing industries.

The collaboration has recent reports on the adoption of health and safety change by farming and fishing enterprises; on a national assessment of factors related to farm safety management systems; on ‘at risk’ groups in the fishing industry; and on sustainable farm families. Further research has provided a basis for understanding the complex health and safety challenges faced by the commercial fishing industry. The number of fatalities overall is decreasing in the fishing industry but there still remains significant scope to enhance the safety and physical and mental health of commercial fishers. Another recent report dealt with farm and fishing workers’ use of drugs and alcohol, and the influence of workplace culture on drug and alcohol use. Work has also been published by the collaboration on ways to enhance the capacity of farming communities to manage the mental health effects of climate variability. And this month RIRDC is publishing a study on Safe Farming on Small Farms.

The National Farm Safety Week package is available, plus supporting pictures for media coverage, by contacting Farmsafe on 02 6752 8218 or kerrilynn.peachy@sydney.edu.au

Media Enquiries: 

Gordon Gregory - Executive Director: 02 6285 4660