‘Stay on the safe side’: Farmsafe Australia launches safety campaign

Image courtesy Andrea Cairone, Unsplash.

Farmsafe Australia kicked off National Farm Safety Week today with the launch of the annual Safer Farms Report today. The report highlights the 2022 injury and fatality statistics as well as the first 6 months of 2023.

This year saw a return to higher injuries and fatalities, with agriculture again ranking as the most dangerous Australian industry to work in. 55 farmers lost their lives on Australian farms in 2022 with tractors accounting for 20% of these fatalities and quad bikes accounting for another 14%.

The report unpacks the statistics and highlights tools and resources available to farmers through the Farmsafe Australia website, Farmsafe member organisations and collaborative partners. It also calls on industry, government, and supply chain stakeholders to actively support Farmsafe Australia to ensure that Australian farmers continue to have access to free farm safety information, tools and resources.

This year’s Farm Safety Week campaign, ‘Stay on the Safe Side,’ focusses on tractor, vehicle and machinery safety, in an effort to raise awareness of the alarming injury and fatality statistics attributed to these agents, and reinforce important safety messaging to help farmers create a safer working environment.

The underlying message of the campaign is that farmers and farm workers need to take ownership of their own safety by recognising that safety is a choice they make every day.

Farmsafe Australia Chair, Felicity Richards, is a farmer herself and knows first-hand the importance of making safe decisions. “Every time a farmer tackles a job on the farm, no matter how big or small, or how many times they’ve performed that job, they make decisions. They can choose to do it safely or they can choose to take unnecessary risks. That choice is influenced by how much time, money or labour they have at their disposal. By emphasising that safety is a choice, our hope is that farmers choose to stay on the safe side and protect themselves, their families, their workers and ultimately, their farms,” said Richards.

Throughout the week, Farmsafe Australia raises awareness of trending safety issues and provides tips on how to navigate safety challenges. Although most long-time farmers are aware of the risks on their farm, they tend to become complacent, or take shortcuts to get jobs done quicker.

“Complacency is a silent adversary that poses a real threat to older farmers. When we become comfortable with or indifferent to risks and hazards, we expose ourselves to danger. Farming demands constant vigilance and a firm commitment to safety. We must remain proactive, continuously assessing and addressing risks. By challenging complacency, we fortify ourselves against incidents, protecting lives and ensuring the sustainable success of our agricultural workforce,” states Richards.

National Farm Safety Week occurs in the third week of July every year. It’s an opportunity for farmers, farm workers and agricultural communities to reflect on the previous year and think about how they can improve their practices and build a culture that leads to safer farming businesses.

This week, topics include;

  • Never circumvent safety mechanisms
  • Choosing the right vehicle for the job
  • Looking out for little farmers (child safety)
  • Working around PTOs and Implements
  • Knowing your limits in relation to fatigue and well-being

“A strong farm safety culture is the backbone of a strong and thriving agricultural community. It goes beyond policies and procedures; it is a shared commitment to the well-being of everyone on the farm. By fostering a culture where safety is ingrained in every action, decision, and interaction, we create an environment where incidents are prevented, lives are protected, and the future of farming is safeguarded,” says Ms Richards.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the report was a reminder that complacency was not an option.

“The agriculture sector only represents a small proportion of our workforce, but farmers and farm workers are frighteningly overrepresented in workplace injuries and deaths,” Minister Watt said.

“Every year the Farmsafe Safer Farms Report is a timely reminder of the risks and dangers of a life on the land, and no one can afford to be complacent.

“While tragically, children are represented in these statistics, we see a lot of older, experienced farmers who are injured or killed on the job.

“I want to see a future where accidents and deaths on farms go down to zero, and I thank Farmsafe for the work they do on this.”

This National Farm Safety Week let’s encourage each other to ‘Stay on the Safe Side’.

To view the Safer Farms Report 2023, or access safety information and educational resources, please visit www.farmsafe.org.au.

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