By Leigh Johnston
Despite increased awareness, farming continues to have the highest rate of fatal injury of all main industry sectors.
While many Australian farmers are struggling with drought, Farm Safe says the last thing farmers need is for a worker, visitor, family member or themselves to be seriously injured or killed.
And the message from Farm Safe and workplace relations firm Employsure is simple – get back to basics with health and safety on your farm.
Employsure’s Managing Director Ed Mallett said: “It is often those small extra precautions that you take that make the difference in preventing a catastrophic incident on your farm.”
Tractors and other machinery remain the number one cause of death and injury for the farming industry.
Injury related to farm machinery range from primary hazards, such as tractor roll-over, being run over by machinery and incidents related to PTOs, hydraulics and augers, as well as secondary hazards such as hearing loss and ergonomic back injuries.
Chair of Farm Safe and the National Farmers Federation workforce committee Charles Armstrong said the first thing farmers and operators could do to reduce incidents was keep safety front of mind all the time.
“Rather then thinking about getting the job done, and the job done quickly, think about safety first,” he said.
Mr Armstrong said while the number of incidents could be considered low by an operator compared to the hours spent on a tractor, people still needed to maintain vigilance.
“Get in the mindset that tractors and machinery are dangerous, and can be very dangerous, think about what might go wrong and how you can mitigate it before it happens,” he said.
Mr Armstrong said Farm Safe Australia have a number of hazard checklists for machinery, including tractors and augers, available on their website.
Mr Mallett said Employsure have had significant consultations with the industry including research that validates the “impact of accidents across Australia’s agriculture industry,” he said.
A survey conducted by Galaxy for Employsure suggests only half of Australian workplaces are confident they can meet safety obligations and that most small businesses find current safety regulations too complex and time-consuming.
According to the Employsure Workplace Safety Index, the top five safety issues facing small business is the complexity of the rules, constant changing of the rules, amount of paperwork, time required for compliance and staff being careless.
Alarmingly, only one in five small businesses feel confident to implement their workplace safety plan, while only 46 per cent have a clear understanding of how to manage and address bullying.
Even more concerning less than 60 percent of those surveyed know their responsibilities or obligations should an employee be injured whilst at work.
“While the figures are clearly shocking and the number of deaths in the sector needs to be urgently addressed, this research gives us a clear understanding of where the trouble spots are for employers across Australia,” said Mr Mallett.