National Farm Safety - Not just a one week wonder - Elders Rural Services
Two men on a farm with tractor

National Farm Safety – Not just a one week wonder

With one in five of all Australian workforce fatalities occurring in the agriculture industry in 2016[1] and 63 worker deaths taking place on-farm[2], ensuring the safety of agriculture workers has never been more critical.

Established in 1998 to raise awareness of farm safety issues and reduce the incidences of death and injury on Australian farms, the annual Farmsafe Australia National Farm Safety Week aims to increase the well-being of Australian farmers through improved awareness of on-farm health and safety.

Now in its 20th year, the week-long initiative – themed “Innovative, Safe and Healthy” – runs from Monday 16 July to Sunday 22 July 2018 and strives to highlight the dangers of working in the agriculture industry, while also outlining steps farmers can take to increase on-farm safety and reduce fatalities.

As the biggest employer in rural and regional Australia, the agriculture industry is the lifeblood of countless local communities across the country. However, statistically, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries to work in due to a combination of hazards including; equipment, exposure to chemicals, noise, dust, extreme weather, animals and remote working.

According to Safework Australia, between 2010 and 2014 more than one in five workers who died at work, worked in agriculture – the highest fatality rate of any Australian industry – while agricultural vehicles such as tractors and quad bikes accounted for 82 out of 221 (37 per cent) worker deaths[3].

Consequently, increasing awareness of on-farm safety and reducing farm fatalities is absolutely fundamental to the continued success of the Australian agriculture industry, and its ability to attract new generations of talent.

As with farms and communities up and down the country, Elders’ success is very much dependent on the health and wellbeing of its employees. We prioritise their safety and recognise that their welfare is integral to everything we do.

In 2017, lost time injuries (LTIs) at Elders were six, a considerable improvement on LTIs of 34 in 2013. It was a notable achievement in Elders’ quest for zero LTI’s, and one that must continue to be a central focus for the entire business.

As we strive for an injury free workplace through continually incorporating risk based decision-making processes at all levels and increasing an emphasis on employee and community safety, health and wellbeing. Going forward, we must challenge the status quo and ignite innovation within our teams to advance our pursuit of zero LTIs. After all, nothing is so important that it can’t be done safely.

So, this National Farm Safety Week, please carefully consider you and everyone around you, health and safety by:

  • Eliminating hazards that could potentially kill or injury
  • Choosing the safest equipment for your farm’s needs and ensuring it’s well maintained
  • Choosing the safest chemicals and closely following the manufacturers’ instructions
  • Ensuring all workers and visitors are aware of the risks on-farm and how to manage these
  • Ensuring workers have the skills to work safely, for example when handling animals and using farm equipment
  • Supervising new and inexperienced workers closely

The health and well-being of those around you depends on it.

For more detailed information on National Farm Safety Week and on how to improve on-farm safety, please visit the Farmsafe and Safe Work Australia websites.

[1] Work Health and Safety in the Agriculture Industry, 2016