Farming death rate falls

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Ten fewer people died on Australian farms in 2019 than in 2018 says AgHealth Australia, but the data shows the causes remain the same

Quad bikes were the leading agent of injury
Quad bikes were the leading agent of injury

Tractors, quad bikes and falling trees were the biggest killers on Australian farms last year, according to new data released by AgHealth Australia.

Figures collated by AgHealth Australia from media reports show 58 people died in non-intentional incidents on Australian farms in 2019, according to information released to date.

That is 10 below the 68 deaths recorded in 2018, with four fewer deaths in Victoria and SA and three fewer each in Queensland and NSW – though there were three more deaths in Tasmania and two in WA.

In 2019, 55 of the 58 recorded deaths were males and 10 were of people below 15 years of age – with 12 deaths for people aged 45–59, 14 for people aged 60–74 and eight for people aged over 75.

Quad bikes were the leading agent of injury, with two children and nine adults dying in accidents, while another four children and one adult died in an accident involving a side by side. 

Another eight adults died in tractor accidents and four adults died in accidents that took place when trees were being felled. 

Further to this, of the 133 non-fatal accidents reported in media in 2019, 44 involved quad bikes and 15 involved tractors – with 10 injuries caused by horses and nine by cattle.

AgHealth Australia, part of the University of Sydney, was supported by AgriFutures Australia in putting the research together.

Jen Medway, AgriFutures Australia senior manager in business development, says the statistics also show that fatal on-farm injuries cost the sector over $113 million – or almost $2 million per accident – but says that the social costs are even higher.

"The true impact of serious safety incidences are felt much wider than the economic evaluation would suggest, but fortunately we are starting to see a trend towards an improved safety record for the sector," she says.

"It is an uncomfortable conversation but an important one anyone working in agriculture needs to have if we are to see a sustained reduction in the number of on-farm fatalities and injuries."

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