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Prioritising Farm Safety

 

Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in Australia. In 2019, over 1 in 5 people who died at work were employed in agriculture. 

 

Chemicals, dust, sun exposure, animals and heavy machinery are just some of the hazards that farmers face every day. The impact of these hazards is compounded by the fact that farmers often work alone. So if there is an incident it can be a long time before help arrives. 

 

The best way to stay safe on a farm is to manage risks and try to prevent accidents happening in the first place. Here are some tips to help reduce the risks associated with farming lifestyles: 

 

Farm maintenance 

Regularly explore your farm on foot and detail any maintenance jobs that need to be done. Ensure there’s a planned time frame for each job to be completed so they don’t keep getting moved to the bottom of your to-do list. Use this opportunity to assess any safety risks and ensure measures are put in place to minimise them as quickly as possible. Workers and family members can be valuable sources for information about potential hazards and safety improvements. 

 

Equipment

All machinery should be fitted with the latest safety tools and guards and be in good repair. Grain augers, for example, are particularly dangerous and need to be properly guarded. All workers must be trained properly so they can confidently use the equipment; and have access to appropriate personal safety protection. 

 

Child safety

Farms are dangerous places for everyone, but young children are particularly vulnerable. Make sure you have a safe and enclosed space for children to play outside, ideally using child resistant fences and self-latching gates. Introduce and enforce out-of-bounds areas on the farm where dangerous equipment is present. 

 

All water - including dams, wells, tanks and troughs near the house need to be properly guarded, the entrances to all confined spaces such as silos and manure pits securely fastened, and dangerous equipment and chemicals locked away. 
 

Review your emergency plan 

Ensure everyone on the farm understands the plan, and is properly educated on potential risks and first aid protocol. If you don’t have a plan, you can download the Australian Red Cross Get Prepared App for help accessing the information and tools you need to complete an emergency plan. 

 

Safety should be an open topic of conversation with family and workers. Education is one of the best ways to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Accidents can happen in the blink of the eye, and in dangerous environments like farms, they can happen to even the most prepared people. 

 

Remember, you can always speak with your local WFI area manager to discuss your options for farm cover.