5 steps to a safer farm

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Agriculture does not have to be Australia’s most dangerous job Agriculture does not have to be Australia’s most dangerous job Agriculture does not have to be Australia’s most dangerous job

Making sure your farm is a safe workplace is a good way to avoid accidents while helping you increase your income and profits, according to the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation.

Statistics show that agriculture is Australia’s most dangerous job, with 686 workplace fatalities being recorded in the industry between 2003 and 2014.

However, Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) advisory panel chair Gordon Gregory says that improving safety isn’t hard if you follow five basic steps to identify risks and fix them.

These are:

  1. Consult – involve your workers
  2. Identify hazards – look for unsafe conditions and unsafe practices
  3. Assess the risk – for each hazard, consider the likely outcome
  4. Control the risk – use the ‘hierarchy of control’ approach to eliminate each hazard, or find something else to use instead. If that can’t be done, use protective equipment and put procedures in place to minimise the risk
  5. Keep records – write down your OH&S activity

"Involving and consulting workers is key and should include regular meetings where safety issues are discussed," Gregory says.

"It’s always important to be on the lookout for on-farm hazards, but that’s especially true when familiar systems change, such as with the arrival of new machinery and equipment.

"Property owners, managers and workers all have a responsibility to identify those jobs and situations that may cause injury or illness, not only to people doing the work, but also to bystanders and visitors."

Other tips are:

  • People working on farms should report to their manager anything that could be considered hazardous to health and safety.
  • Risk associated with each hazard can be assessed in terms of the severity of the potential harm that could occur, and the likelihood that such an outcome could occur.
  • The best thing to do is to eliminate the identified hazard, for instance by swapping to a piece of equipment or infrastructure that can do the same job but is less risky.
  • Reducing the risk can also be achieved by providing workers with safe operating procedures or rules, organising work in such a way that reduces risk, giving safety induction and training to workers, and closely supervising unskilled workers.
  • Personal protective equipment must be provided and used where workers cannot be protected from a hazard by a control measure. This includes providing helmets to protect riders of motorbikes and quad-bikes (ATVs).


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