Skip to main content

Your internet browser is out of date and not supported by this website. For the best viewing experience on wool.com, please update your browser to one of the options below.

Welcome to Wool.com

An innovation hub for the woolgrowers of Australia

You may also be interested in

15.07.2022 Source: AWEX
AWEX EMI 1388 -19
Micron 17 2751 +48
Micron 18 2165 -27
Micron 19 1688 -39
Micron 20 1447 -40
Micron 21 1403n -15
Micron 22 1343n -40
Micron 26 705n -
Micron 28 410 -2
Micron 30 320n -10
MCar 904 +3
Farm safety for all ages

Quad bikes have been a major cause of injury and fatalities on Australian farms. However, appropriate safety precautions such as rollover protection and helmets, plus careful and responsible use, can reduce the risk. PHOTO: WorkSafe Victoria

Since 2001, more than 1,600 people in Australia have lost their lives due to (non-intentional) farm-related incidents. Statistics demonstrate that it is not just the young and inexperienced that need to be vigilant, because more than half of the fatalities were people aged over 50.

19- to 30-year-olds: the generation most well-known for ambitious confidence, risk-taking behaviour and lack of experience, or so the perception goes.

However, this stereotype fails to stand up when the facts are examined. Since 2001, it is actually farmers aged over 50 years that have accounted for more than half (50.5%) of all Australian farming fatalities, according to AgHealth Australia.

Looking at the statistics for the 2021 calendar year, in which there were 46 on-farm deaths, 27 (59%) were in the 45+ year category, while in contrast seven were in the 15-29 year category, six in the 30-44 year category, and six were under 15 years.

In 2021, farm vehicles (23) and mobile farm machinery (14) were involved in a large majority of the total fatalities. The most frequent causes in 2021 were tractors (10), quad bikes (9) and side-by-sides (7).

Other causes of death in the past couple of years have included other farm vehicles (eg aircraft, ute, motorbike, truck, car), other farm machinery (eg forklift, telehandler, harvesting machine, hay baler), animals (eg cattle, horse and snake), farm structure (eg dam, powerline, silo), materials (eg hay bale, rope) and other reasons (eg firearm, power saw and tree felling).

There will have also been many ‘near misses’ and many non-fatal injuries, small and large, that could have had an impact on farm labour, productivity and profitability, as well as personal and family stress.

Causes of injury on the farm can also include anything from manual tasks and repetitive motion, through to incorrect and unsafe use of hazardous chemicals. Farming also often involves physically demanding tasks, frequently undertaken outdoors in all types of weather, and often working in isolated areas – these aspects of the work exacerbate the safety risks.

Taking all this into account, it is therefore important to minimise the risk of injury and improve on-farm safety. There are many national and state organisations that have a role in helping farmers and everyone on the farm (workers, family and children, visitors) improve their safety, including their health and mental wellbeing.

One such organisation is the Rural Safety & Health Alliance (RSHA), which is a collaboration of rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) including AWI. The RSHA’s vision is for everyone on farm to see health and safety as a priority, and adopt safe practices – see www.rsha.com.au. One way that the RDCs work to achieve this is by showcasing farmer-facing health and safety resources from national and state organisations – see below.

Safety resources for farmers

AWI and the RSHA encourage property owners, managers, workers, contractors and family members to take a look at farm safety resources provided by organisations such as:

Farmsafe Australia: A national entity that promotes awareness and adoption of health and safety practices on farms. www.farmsafe.org.au

AgHealth Australia: Within the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health at Dubbo (NSW), it conducts research on injury and fatality in agriculture and has a range of resources for farmers. http://aghealth.sydney.edu.au

National Centre for Farmer Health: A partnership at Hamilton (Vic) between Deakin University and Western District Health Service, it conducts research into risks and injury prevention for farmers, and has a range of resources. www.farmerhealth.org.au

State organisations – each provides farm safety resources:

  • SafeWork NSW

www.safework.nsw.gov.au/your-industry/agriculture,-forestry-and-fishing

  • AgVic: Smarter, Safer Farms

www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/about/agriculture-in-victoria/smarter-safer-farms

  • Worksafe Victoria

www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/agriculture

  • SafeWork SA

www.safework.sa.gov.au/industry/agriculture

  • Safe Farms WA

www.safefarms.net.au

  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/your-industry/agriculture,-forestry-and-fishing

  • Safe Farming Tasmania

www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/topics/services-and-events/safe-farming-tasmania

Shearing shed safety

Aside from general farm safety, wool-growing businesses have the added consideration of safety in the shearing shed to consider. To optimise safety in woolgrowers’ sheds, AWI launched in November 2020 a shearing shed safety program, SafeSheds, which includes a best practice guide and checklists.

SafeSheds is now being used across the country by many woolgrowers and shearing contractors to help them assess the safety of their shearing sheds, thereby enabling the woolgrower to create a program to rectify any safety hazards, improve working conditions and comply with modern workplace standards.

While safe shearing sheds help attract people into the industry, retain current staff and extend the longevity of their careers, they also improve industry productivity and profitability. By planning and documenting the improvements and steps to control risk, woolgrowers are able to provide direct evidence of efforts in managing safety as required by relevant State Workplace Health and Safety Legislation. SafeSheds is a self-assessment guide and not a formal audit.

Developed by AWI and WA Shearing Industry Association, SafeSheds harnesses the support of industry including WoolProducers Australia, Pastoralists & Graziers WA, WAFarmers and Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia.

SafeSheds is available as an 80-page booklet (downloadable in PDF format from the AWI website or you can order a hard copy). The SafeSheds checklists are also available in a handy digital, interactive format.

More information: The 80-page SafeSheds booklet and the SafeSheds app are both available at www.wool.com/safe-sheds.

 

This article appeared in the June 2022 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.

Articles That Might Interest You
Lifetime Ewe Management
The nationally-accredited Lifetime Ewe Management course allows sheep producers to monitor and demonstrate the effects of nutrition and management on a mob of their own ewes in their environment. Read more
Making More From Sheep
A joint initiative of AWI and MLA, the Making More From Sheep program is a best practice package of information and tools for sheep producers supported by a range of events and workshops. Read more
Practical Workshops
We've developed practical workshops to help woolgrowers identify key practical actions to implement on-farm to achieve improved productivity for their enterprise. Read more