Prevent harm when working on the farm - health and safety for farmers

The 17th to 21st of July marks Farm Safety Week so we are addressing the importance of safe work practices in the agriculture industry.

While the agriculture industry can be a rewarding industry to work in, it’s also one of the most dangerous. In 2015-16 the agriculture industry made up 2.3% of the workforce, but accounted for 23% of worker fatalities. Between 2005 and 2015, an average of 41 workers lost their lives in the agriculture industry each year, and 3,015 serious claims were made.

 Some of the hazards to agricultural workers include:

 Work health and safety duties

Under the WHS Regulations, farm owners and managers need to protect their workers by making sure that their employees and contractors are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

According to SafeWork Australia, the best ways to protect workers include:

  • Eliminate hazards, which means getting rid of things that can kill or hurt workers. If that is not possible then you must minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Choose the safest equipment for your farm’s needs and ensure it is well maintained. 
  • Choose the safest chemicals and closely follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Ensure all workers and visitors know about the risks on the farm and how to manage these.
  • Ensure workers have the skills to work safely, for example when handling animals and using farm equipment.
  • Closely supervise new and inexperienced workers.

 Being Prepared for an Emergency

Being able to quickly respond to an emergency such as illness with first aid and being able to get people to hospital or a medical facility quickly is of high importance. This can help prevent people dying or having other complications. 

According to FarmSafe Australia being prepared for farm emergencies includes having:

  • good (appropriate) First Aid kits
  • people on farm trained to provide First Aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and expired air resuscitation (EAR)
  • effective farm communication an Emergency Plan, and
  • an Emergency Contact card beside phones and two-way radios to help contact emergency services and give directions to them and ask for further help

FarmSafe Australia have developed a number of resources, guides and checklists that are beneficial when implementing and monitoring safe work practices

 Earlier we mentioned how Quad bikes and vehicles are one of the hazards to agricultural workers and farmers. To give you a better idea of just how much of a hazard it is, the University of Sydney recently reported that since 2001 over 230 Australians have died in quad related incidents. This makes quads the leading cause of non-intentional injury death on Australian farms (outranking tractors).

Farmers are urged to think carefully about their use of quads taking into account the safety risks. In a majority of cases , quads are not fit for purpose for the tasks required by farmers and more suitable vehicles should be used taking into account the different terrains.

Farm Safety Week aims to raise awareness of farm safety issues across Australia and some practical steps farmers can take to improve worker health and safety.

We have a poster you can download and print to create awarness amongst your employees as to what to do if someone has an injury at work.

Poster: What to do if you have an injury at work

 For mor­e information as to how you can implement safe work practices, contact us here.

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