AUSTRALIAN farm safety and awareness campaigns are set to enter a new era following a key report into farm-related injury and fatality trends.
Farmsafe Australia today released its Safer Farms report as part of a $1.9 million revitalisation project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
The inaugural Safer Farms Agricultural Injury and Fatality Trend Report included a call to action of ‘Safer Farms, Safer Farmers’, and highlights injury and fatality trends over the last 18 months, as well as a 10-year comparison of the statistics.
A snapshot of the common causes of farm injuries and fatalities is also included, with quad bike accidents unfortunately topping the list.
Farmsafe Australia said report would kick-start a new era of farm safety education and awareness campaigns by the national body.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us and Farmsafe Australia is up to the challenge,” Farmsafe Australia chair Charles Armstrong said.
“The report states there has been nine quad bike deaths in the past six months but since writing, the number has risen to 12.
“That is higher than 2019 and we are only halfway through 2020,” Mr Armstrong said.
“I have spent much of my advocacy career lobbying for mandatory operator protection devices due to the alarming rate of injuries and fatalities that occur from quad bike rollover.”
The ACCC has recently mandated the fitting of OPDs to all new quad bikes and directly imported second-hand quad bikes. The standard comes into effect on 11 October 2021.
The Safer Farms report highlights other areas of concern such as the prevalence of fatalities involving males over the age of 50 and children under the age of 15. The report also provides insight into the difficulties related to making farms safe and addresses the need for a shift in the safety messaging to address established cultural farm behaviours.
Farmsafe Australia said it will be considering these trends in future campaigns and is committed to increasing their communications.
NFF has goal of zero farm fatalities by 2030
National Farmers’ Federation chief executive officer Tony Mahar said the inaugural report revealed that more than 200 people have lost their lives on Australian farms in the past 18 months.
The report also identified the five main causes of fatality and injury, noting animals, heavy machinery and quad bikes as the main contributing factors.
“The NFF recognises farm safety as a crucial, and unfortunately, too often overlooked, aspect of Australian agriculture.
“The report shows that since 2010, out of the total number of on-farm fatalities, 50 percent are over 50 years of age and 15pc have been children under 15 years of age,” Mr Mahar said.
“These numbers must be cause for alarm for farmers and regional communities and highlight the need to do more to protect a farm’s most important asset, its people.”
The Safer Farms report identified two key factors that make it difficult to ensure on-farm safety: the first being a lack of work-life balance and the second that ‘clocking off’ isn’t always an option for farmers.
“More often than not, the farm is also the family home. Being a farmer is more than just a job, it’s a way of life,” Mr Mahar said.
Safer Farms also recognised the linkage between farming culture and farm-related injuries and fatalities and showed that there is an urgent need to reshape communications to address broader safety issues.
Mr Mahar echoed the report’s call to change the conversation around on farm work, health and safety as it looked to achieve its 2030 goal of having Australian farms embrace better safety practices.
“As part of our 2030 Roadmap to see Australian agriculture achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030, the NFF wants to see Australian farms adopt a culture of safety.
“We have goal for zero farm fatalities by 2030,” Mr Mahar said.
“In order to achieve this goal, we must work together with organisations such as Farmsafe to ensure a coordinated approach towards farm safety.”
Farmsafe executive officer, Stevi Howdle said the body needed to make good on its founding commitment to making Australian farms safer places to live and work.
“We need to communicate directly with our farmers about safety and we need to be consistent about the messaging we are putting forward.”
To read the Safer Farms report click here.