VICTORIA’S peak farming body has supported a WorkSafe campaign targeting farm safety inaction and complacency on the state’s farms.
A confronting new WorkSafe campaign is highlighting that farm deaths and life-changing injuries can happen to anyone who doesn’t prioritise safety.
The six-week advertising campaign launched this week across regional television, print, radio, digital and social media channels.
The campaign’s key message – “It’s never you, until it is” – aims to challenge a common mindset among farmers and agriculture workers that a serious incident won’t happen to them.
The campaign targets owner-operator farmers, their workers and families, in a series of graphic portrayals of everyday farm safety scenarios to bring home the cost of not taking a safety-first approach.
Victorian Farming Federation chief executive officer Jane Lovell said although graphic and emotionally confronting, the ads are designed to challenge any complacency around safety.
“When watching these advertisements, we all need to think not just about our own safety, but also our employees and our families and the impacts on them if something goes wrong.
“Employers have an important role to lead by example,” she said.
“The headline ‘It’s never you, until it is’ is the flip side of old fallacy ‘It won’t happen to me’.
“We want farmers to consider whether poor safety practices are commonplace on their properties, and to take action,” Ms Lovell said.
The advertisements also feature some common practices such as having seatbelts already buckled in behind the driver and passenger when using a side-by-side; a feature in a number of serious farm-related accidents.
“If the seatbelt is already buckled up before a worker even gets on the side by side, that reflects a poor entrenched safety practice” Ms Lovell said.
The VFF encourages farmers to take the time to engage with their employees about the advertisements in the days and weeks following.
The VFF said its safety team stood ready to assist farmers with the free farm safety audits and OHS consultancies which are available to all Victorian farmers courtesy of the ‘Making our Farms Safer’ Project.
WorkSafe Victoria said agriculture remains one of the state’s most dangerous industries, with 24 people dying as a result of on-farm workplace incidents in the past three years.
Last year alone, 424 people working in agriculture, or about eight people every week, were injured seriously enough to make a worker’s compensation claim.
Farmers are not bulletproof – WorkSafe
WorkSafe executive director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said the campaign would show that experience alone does not prevent workplace incidents on farms.
“Farmers know their land and machinery like the back of their hand, but that doesn’t make you bulletproof.
“It might be easy to think that a tragic incident will never happen on your farm, but if safety is not our top priority then the chances are high that it will,” she said.
“Farmers owe it to themselves, their families, their workers and communities to always keep safety front of mind and make it a permanent part of their daily life.”
The campaign is part of a wider push to shift attitudes around farm safety under WorkSafe’s Agriculture Strategy 2020-23.
The strategy sets out how WorkSafe will engage with industry to drive cultural change and encourage a mindset that farm workplace deaths and injuries are preventable, not inevitable.
It focuses on high-risk hazards such as machinery, livestock and chemicals and will collaborate with industry to improve the safety of vulnerable employees, including migrant and seasonal workers.
The strategic approach also includes collaborative education programs, new guidance and targeted compliance and enforcement activities.
To arrange a free safety consultancy contact the VFF Safety Team on 1300 882 833 or visit the VFF website’s farm safety section here.