Forget even just the impact of nature or the economy on farmers, the Australian Farm Deaths & Injuries Media Monitors Snapshot by the University of Sydney points to farming as the most dangerous occupation in Australia. A total of 63 on farm deaths were reported for last year, with nine of those involving a child under 15 years of age. Tractors, mobile-plant/machinery and quads were involved in 24 of the reports.
According to Safe Work Australia, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry is the greatest risk of fatality, ahead of both the construction and mining industries.
But farm risk CAN be mitigated
The facts and figures from Farmsafe Australia Inc point to significant reduction of on-farm injuries and deaths over the last 20 years. This is due to improvements in knowledge and technological advances, and we all need to do our part in continuing this focus on safety and risk management to keep the trend going and reduce the chances of injuries or deaths occurring.
We all need to do our part in continuing this focus on safety and risk management to keep the trend going and reduce the chances of injuries or deaths occurring.
Children are amongst the most vulnerable, as the farms are often their home. Tractors, quads and motorcycles are reported as being involved in farm accidents most frequently.
So what can we do about it? To help raise awareness and reduce the risks associated with farming and the farming lifestyle, CGU has compiled a list of specific areas to pay closer attention to and help avoid an incident from occurring in the first place.
Farm safety steps
- Regularly explore your farm on foot and detail any maintenance jobs that need to be done and plan a timeframe for each to be completed.
- Use this opportunity to assess all evident safety risks and ensure they are minimised as quickly as possible.
- Consult with workers and family members around potential hazards and safety improvements.
- Ensure all machinery and equipment is fitted with the latest safety tools and guards and is in good repair.
- Ensure all employees are trained properly for the use of all machinery and equipment and use appropriate personal safety protection.
- Equipment such as grain augurs are particularly dangerous – make sure they are properly guarded.
- Make sure you have a safe and enclosed space for children to play close to the house – implement child resistant fences and self-latching gates around this space.
- All water – including dams, wells, tanks and troughs near the house need to be properly guarded, the entrances to all confined spaces such as silos and, manure pits securely fastened, and dangerous equipment and chemicals locked away.
- Introduce and enforce out-of-bounds areas on the farm for children.
- Ensure children wear helmets when riding horses and bikes, always wear seatbelts in vehicles and never travel as a passenger in tractors, on four-wheel motorbikes and other machinery.
- Talk with your children about safety around the farm and make it an open topic of conversation.
Control noise on your farm
- Around two thirds of people in the farming community have some form of hearing loss – be particularly vigilant around firearms, chainsaws and machinery with extreme noise levels.
- Try and reduce the noise on your farm where possible.
- Always wear hearing protection and try to limit exposure to extreme noise situations.
Draw up an emergency plan
- Ensure everyone on the farm understands the plan, and is properly educated on farm risks and first aid.
- Maintain regular contact with workers through mobile phone or short-wave radio – particularly when people are working alone.
- Ensure emergency numbers are readily available and routes to the nearest hospital are planned and well understood.
- Keep a log of injuries and near misses to isolate areas for improvement.
Farm insurance – your safety net
Make sure that if the worst should happen, at least you, your employees and your farm are covered for financial losses. We have options that include a free Farm Risk Radar tool (at no additional cost) and options to provide for your workers’ compensation insurance needs. Contact us to find out more if you’re interested.