Published: 13 August 2019
Author: Stringer Clark

If injured on the farm, do you know the avenues for compensation?

According to WorkSafe Victoria statistics, people living in regional Victoria and living on farms need to pay attention greater attention to work safety.

  • In 2018, 23 Victorians lost their lives in workplace accidents and 21 occurred in regional Victoria;
  • In 2017, 27 Victorians lost their lives in workplace accidents and 14 of these deaths occurred due to incidents on farms;
  • Quad bikes continue to represent a major risk to workers in the farming sector, accounting for 225 people losing their lives nationally between 2001 and 2016 (as noted by WorkSafe in its March 2018 publication “Information about quad bikes – Reducing the risks”); and
  • As recently as July 2019, a farm hand died while helping fell trees in Buxton. The fatality brings the number of workplace deaths this year to 14, which is 2 more than at the same time last year.

We see many workers, each and every year, who have suffered primarily musculoskeletal injuries as the result of trips, slips, repetitive strain, heavy lifting, quad bike and tractor accidents, and being crushed by cattle and other livestock.

Farming involves heavy work, often over long hours, in conditions where co-workers are not always at hand to keep a look-out or give assistance in the event of an accident.

It is perhaps no surprise that farm workers often seek advice from us about their general entitlements to compensation as the result of injuries.

Available avenues if injured while working at the farm

Generally, farm workers including shearers, milkers, farm drovers and tractor drivers are covered by WorkCover in the event that they are injured in the course of their employment. They should be aware, in situations where they are provided with accommodation and/or fuel as part of the terms of their contract of employment, that the value of these “perks” is to be included in the calculation of their weekly payments of compensation when a workplace injury prevents them from working.

It is important that those who are engaged to work as share farmers by a landowner might also be covered by WorkCover in the event that they are injured in the course of their work. A share farmer is considered to be a “worker” for the purposes of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic) if:

a) the share farmer is engaged by the land owner under a contract to receive as consideration a share of the income (but less than one third of the income) derived from the land whether in cash or in kind, or whether partly in cash and partly in kind; or

b) the contract is in writing, the contract provides that the land owner is liable to pay worker’s compensation under the Act in relation to any injury arising out of or in the course of any work carried out by the share farmer in the performance of the contract.

In other words, if the share farming contract makes it clear that the land owner is liable to pay workers compensation benefits if the share farmer is injured during the course of his/her share farming duties.

It is important that share farmers obtain specific legal advice about the content and meaning of their share farming contracts before agreeing to enter into such an agreement with a land owner. Obviously, the share farming contract should be in writing!

Farmers can be employees in their own company, covered by WorkCover

Potential share farmers should also consider setting up their own company and employing themselves as employees, as well as having the company take out a valid WorkCover policy of insurance in relation to its employees, in the event that they cannot negotiate a share farming agreement that makes the landowner responsible under the WorkCover legislation in the event of any injury to the share farmer.

Also, if you are injured by a quad bike, tractor, or other farm vehicle contact us to see whether you may have an entitlement to compensation from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), and even if the vehicle is not registered in some cases.

Lastly, if you are injured on a farm but are not injured in the course of your work (or in circumstances where the TAC is obliged to pay compensation,  then you may have a claim against the public liability insurer of the occupier of the farm premises.

Stringer Clark’s friendly and professional personal injury lawyers are available to give you expert advice in the event that you injured on a farm.

Related News & Articles

Call 1800 641 743 to be connected to your nearest office, find an office near you on our office locations map, or email us using the form below and we will contact you on the same or next business day.

* Required Field