New data revealed that work-related death rates in NSW have not improved for more than a decade.
A research paper, ‘Non-intentional farm injury fatalities in NSW, Australia, 2001-2015’, released by the Public Health Research and Practice revealed that farm fatalities had not improved between 2001 and 201 with about 370 fatalities on farms during that period with more than half being work-related. The report found that there were about 17 fatalities per 100,000 people, making the agriculture industry 12 times higher than the state’s all industry average
“The lack of continued reductions in non-intentional fatal injury in the agriculture sector in NSW is of serious concern and suggests that alternative approaches are required,” said authors Tony Lower, Margaret Rolfe and Noeline Monaghan.
“Although direct cause and effect cannot be attributed, it may be contended that the removal of injury prevention as a core priority of health services in NSW, accompanied by a divestment of resources to support community interventions, has contributed to these results.
“As a significant concern is the levelling off in both work and all-cause fatality rates. Further, the agricultural work-related fatality rate in NSW remains almost 12 times higher than the 2014 all-industry rate for NSW (1.46 per 100,000 workers), suggesting that significant improvements can be made.”
NSW Farmer’s safety spokesperson, Matthew Waring said one death in the industry is “one death too many,” and that they are working with SafeWork NSW in ensuring the safety of workplaces.
“The Association holds industrial relations and business workshops across the state dealing with workplace health and safety. NSW Farmers also works closely with SafeWork NSW and the government to promote the importance of a safe workplace. A recent example of this is the quad bike messaging and rebate program, along with new initiatives that the association is talking to SafeWork NSW about and hope to launch in 2018,” said Mr. Waring.
“Simple steps can be taken by farmers to reduce the number and severity accidents on farm including conducting simple risk assessments each time you use a piece of plant or inspecting work areas on a routine basis to identify items that may need replacing or maintenance. Something as easy as a checklist could save a life or limb.”
Last year, the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety shows NSW has recorded the highest number of on-farm deaths for the first six months of 2017, with 17 fatalities (read SafetyCulture report).
Data from Safe Work Australia shows that more people in the agriculture sector die than those in the construction and mining industries combined. Forty-three Australians had died from accidents in agriculture, fishing and forestry industries in 2017, which came a close second to transport industry deaths.