11:33 pm, Tuesday 22 October, 2013
Photo: SafetyCulture Library
WorkSafe Victoria is urging farmers to make safety a priority as the harvest season draws closer.
“As the warmer months are fast approaching, the hay season is about to get under way and farmers are getting busier and preparing for the season ahead,” said Ms Sturzenegger.
“But we know from past experience that it only takes a month for a rushed decision to turn into a tragic one.”
Ms Sturzenegger noted that recent deaths in farms since June show that farming is a high-risk occupation.
“We want everyone to put safety at the front of their mind, reassess their systems of work and, if there’s a safety risk, make changes,” Ms Sturzenegger said.
“Only use the machine for what it’s intended for, tell your loved ones where you’ll be if you’re working alone, carry a phone, ensure vehicles are properly maintained and wear appropriate safety gear for the task at hand.”
Ms Sturzenegger encouraged Victoria’s farming community not to take “shortcuts with safety”.
“Since June, three members of Victoria’s farming community left home at the start of their day and never came back.
“Nobody – workers, family, friends or the wider community – should have to suffer the trauma of a workplace fatality.”
She said 9 out of the 18 workplace deaths this year happened in regional Victoria and reminded workers to ensure safety.
“Don’t be the next workplace fatality. Identify and control the risk before it’s too late.”
WorkSafe Victoria provided the following tips to ensure safety during the harvest season:
- Ensure plant is maintained and guards in place, particularly brakes, hydraulics, steering, (poorly inflated tyres can contribute to rollover).
- Understand the limitations of the machinery and vehicles you’re using. Don’t overload them and use the right machine for the job.
- If something is blocked or broken, plan the repair job – shut all machinery down, remove all sources of energy before attempting to clear any blockages, and reinstate all guards before resuming work.
- Be aware of where power lines are and height of machinery – plan your route.
- Induct contractors who will work on the property and consult them about farm hazards (access/egress and no go zones).
- Only allow trained and competent operators to use plant.
- Let someone know where you’ll be working and when you’re due back, and have an emergency communications plan.
- Keep a phone or other means of communication on you so help can be called if necessary.
- Keep children away from work sites and machinery in operation – particularly during loading and unloading operations.
- Harvesting often requires long hours including early starts and/or late finishes so be aware of fatigue, take regular rest breaks, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and eat nourishing food.