By Richard Heath - Australian Farm Institute
Australian agriculture has been kicking a lot of goals in the last few years. As the biggest contributor to GDP growth, the farming sector is full of stories of innovation and success. One goal that remains resolutely un-kicked however, is that of workplace safety. There is no way to sugar coat the fact that farmers are participating in the deadliest profession in Australia.
In 2016 there were 14 workplace fatalities for every 100,000 employees working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. This was almost double the fatality rate of the next most dangerous job category. This is an appallingly high number and one that would probably surprise most farmers. Therein lies the rub. Farmers, generally, do not think that farming is dangerous.
There is plenty of legislation and regulation that spell out what safe workplaces should look like, and organisations like Farmsafe and Safe Work Australia provide resources and guidance for improving farm safety. However, none of this support is useful if there is a predominant attitude that farming is not dangerous and therefore farm safety is not something to be worried about.
I am not trying to be alarmist, and farming is far from something that people should be afraid of. Improving farm safety does not mean fundamental change to farming practice. It is almost always the little things that make a difference; putting the guard back on, thinking twice about crossing the gully on the quad runner, wearing a hat and sunscreen. The actions aren’t hard, the attitude change can be.
Please, think about farm safety. Be shocked by the numbers and realise that farming can be dangerous; but all it takes to make it safe is a change in attitude.