Farm fatalities soaring in Victoria

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Victorian farmers are being urged to prioritise safety after a shocking six months in which eight people have died in workplace incidents on farms across the state.

Of the eight farm-related fatalities so far this year, four were as a result of tractor incidents while seven involved workers aged over 40. The oldest person was 68, and the youngest was 38.

The eight fatalities already equal the total number of farmers and workers killed on farms in Victoria last year. The dark toll also makes up more than half of the 15 workplace deaths that have occurred in Victoria so far in 2017.

WorkSafe’s plea to prioritise safety first has been released as the state gears up for National Farm Safety Week, which runs from 17-21 July.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the horrendous toll should make all stakeholders in the farming industry think carefully about the risks involved in farm activities and plan accordingly.

“Agriculture is a high-risk industry but that should never mean fatalities and injuries are accepted as part of the job,” Ms. Williams said. “However, it makes it essential that that the risks involved in every task must be planned for and the work carried out accordingly.”

Ms. Williams said WorkSafe research had revealed that the majority of farm deaths were caused by experienced farmers doing activities they had done many times before.

“Farmers should never think that experience will prevent accidents,” Ms. Williams said. “As we see year after year, it’s often experienced farmers doing everyday tasks that fail to come home at the end of the day,” Ms. Williams said.

“That is why it is critical to take a few moments before the day gets underway to think about how to do each and every job safely. Any measure that could help prevent tragedy is worth it.”

Work Safe Victoria recommends the following four steps to make farms safer:

• Prioritise safety when planning tasks.
• Use the right equipment for the task.
• Let someone know where you will be working and stay in touch throughout the day.
• Ensure all machinery is switched off and disengaged before undertaking any maintenance.

For more advice on farm safety, go to Worksafe.vic.gov.au

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