Published: 19 July 2018
Author: Stringer Clark WorkCover Law team

Farmers urged to increase safety precautions on farms

WorkSafe has recently highlighted the importance of farm safety.

WorkSafe Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice, Michael Coffey, stated "fatalities and serious injuries occurring on farms are also being caused by the way in which the work is being done, or by people not using available safety devices. It is people not wearing helmets while riding motorbikes or quadbikes, not wearing fitted seat belts, not making sure guards are in place following maintenance, working too close to moving vehicles, or one person trying to do every task themselves rather than asking for help."

Not using safety equipment can obviously have a huge impact on the severity of an accident. More than 20 per cent of car occupants who are killed are not wearing a seatbelt. However, it can also impact on any claim for compensation by an injured person.

While not wearing or using appropriate safety equipment will not affect your entitlement to medical and like expenses, weekly payments or an impairment benefit, it could impact a claim for common law damages.

Helmets can potentially protect your head and future claims

Not wearing a helmet may well have an effect on a claim for compensation if any injury is sustained that could have been prevented or reduced by wearing a helmet. Generally, this is limited to head injuries.

As an example, in the case that you are riding a motorbike without a helmet and are hit by a car that swerved onto the wrong side of the road, whether you receive any reduction in the common law lump sum amount payable to you will depend on the injuries sustained. If you broke your leg, the fact that you did not wear a helmet would be irrelevant to any damages payable to you. However, if you sustained a head injury in the accident, you would likely receive a significant reduction of damages payable, depending on what the evidence shows about the additional damage caused by not wearing a helmet.

Seatbelts prevent injury and increase the likelihood of compensation

Similarly, not wearing a seatbelt when one is available may reduce any compensation payable to you.

The potential to effect a claim is clearly greater with not wearing a seatbelt than wearing a helmet. It will be up to you and your lawyers to prove that the injuries sustained were not caused or contributed to by you not wearing a seatbelt. Otherwise, you would have your damages reduced to reflect the additional damage caused by not wearing a seatbelt.

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