Published: 17 July 2017
Author: Michael Burdess

Safety matters on farms

National Farm Safety Week is from today until 21 July. As a legal firm that covers nine regional areas of Victoria, injured farm workers make up a not insignificant proportion of our client base.

We see all too often the tragic accident trauma and injuries that occur on farms and we recognise the vital importance of safety measures.

Stats on farm dangers

Some of the following statistics gathered by Farmsafe highlight how increased awareness around safety is required.

  • There were 63 deaths on farms in Australia in 2016. This has fallen from an average of 146 deaths per year from 1989-1992.
  • Around 12 children under 15 years of age die on farms each year.
  • Tractors, other machinery and quad bikes are the leading causes of death. Just over three-quarters of agricultural fatalities between 2010 and 2014 involved farm vehicles.  
  • In 2016 quad bikes accounted for the highest number of deaths and injuries overall.
  • In 2016 there were estimated 9 deaths involving tractors and a further 8 causing serious injury. 
  • There is, on average, 1 death and 16 workers’ compensation claims per year involving grain augers.  
  • Examination of hospitals data indicates the importance of motorbikes, quads, vehicles, horses, farm machinery (grain augers and PTO shafts) and animals (horses and cattle) as main causes of farm injury.
  • Mental Health Issues are important for the farming community with male farm owners and managers dying from suicide at around twice the rate of the national average of other males.

Farm workers compensation claims

At Stringer Clark, we have met some terrific people who have been impacted by an unanticipated accident or injury. We often meet these people after they have faced the initial medical challenges of their situation and are then dealing with return to work issues, the WorkCover scheme in general and the potential that their employment may cease.

According to Farmsafe, workers compensation information indicates that in the five-year period between 2008-09 and 2012-13, injuries in the agricultural sector resulted in over 270,000 weeks of work lost and cost $438 million.

What makes a safe farm?

Farmsafe has developed individual resource guides on child safety, machinery, workshops, grain handling, guarding grain auger, safe cattle handling, tractor operation, quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles. In addition, there are resources on assessing machinery guarding risks, reviewing stockyard risks and facts about orf disease.

In addition, at Stringer Clark we can help you navigate the sometimes confusing WorkCover scheme and the interaction between the WorkCover and Transport Accident Commission scheme when farm vehicles are involved. We also often see disputes arise between farmers and employees after an injury occurs, in relation to accommodation on the farm as part of a worker’s salary package and can provide advice to workers.

For any further legal enquiries, please call Stringer Clark on 1800 641 743 or visit our website at www.stringerclark.com.au for further information.

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