There are calls for more to be done to improve farm safety in NSW, after new research found work-related deaths have remained constant for the last 15 years. The Public Health Research and Practice released a report that showed a constant fatality rate of 17.3 per 100 000 workers from 2001-2015. This is 12 times higher than the state’s all-industry average.
Of the 367 fatalities in NSW where the cause was known, almost 60 per cent were work-related. Tractors, quad bikes, and farm machinery were the leading causes of death, with men accounting for almost 90% of all fatalities.
The authors of the study said the continued lack of reduction in the fatality rate was of “serious concern and suggests that alternative approaches are required”. Speaking to the ABC, author Tony Lower said farmers needed more advice on safety best practices, without fear of prosecution.
“We want to try and ensure that people do take forward the message that they can do something about this and that they can manage safety in the same way that they manage their crops and stock.”
NSW Farmers safety spokesperson Matthew Waring said they were working closely with SafeWork NSW and the state government to improve farm safety, and that one death in the agriculture industry was one death too many.
“Simple steps can be taken by farmers to reduce the number and severity accidents on farm including conducting simple risks 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 a limb.”
Agriculture has long been a deadly industry for Australian workers. Data shows that more people die working on farms than in the construction and mining industries combined. According to SafeWork Australia, 43 people have died from accidents in agriculture, fishing and forestry industries this year alone.
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