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Getting serious about ag safety



Posted by Mim Monkivitch, 23rd February 2018

Heading into a new year, it’s important that we take in the lessons from previous years and try to build on them. One important lesson that keeps being raised is the issue of ag safety. Around 70% of fatalities on-farm are related to working with plant equipment, machinery and vehicles. The real tragedy of this figure isn’t just how consistently high it is, but that it’s avoidable.

According to Gary Northover, Executive Director of TMA, awareness is the first step. “If industry attention keeps growing, it will drive regulators into action,” he says.

“We need to familiarise ourselves with the statistics from Safe Work Australia and other sources and we need to continue to work closely with the regulators so we can see some real change,” says Gary.

According to a report from the National Farm Injury Data Centre, 68 people died as a result of a farming accident in 2017. Nine of the 68 deaths involved a child under 15 years, with tractors being at the top of the list for fatalities.

“As an industry, we can’t let these numbers remain this high. It’s a tragedy that deserves our attention and input. TMA has been involved in many initiatives over the years in a bid to help our members, and the industry, stay safe,” says Gary. “But we also need our members to give this issue the attention it needs. We’re all in this together.”

One of the recent safety initiatives the TMA has been involved in is the VicRoads new heavy road regulations, which will hopefully see a national roll out.

“We are the body that work cover authorities talk to when they want expert input. This is because of our unique relationship with our members – we don’t just ‘represent’ our members, we enter into a discussion with them to really see what realistic measures can be implemented that will benefit them and the wellbeing of the industry,” says Gary.

TMA collaborates with the various state WorkSafe authorities and Safe Work Australia. Some initiatives that TMA has helped implement include the development of guides that dictate how to safely use certain agricultural machinery. This was done in conjunction with WorkSafe Victoria and has now been adopted nationally.

TMA is also involved in designing the curriculum for training apprentices alongside PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and is currently liaising with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator on guidelines for autonomous vehicles.

“The industry has revealed some shocking statistics about safety in agriculture and we need to work together to see some real change. This is a serious issue that warrants our attention. I really encourage you to look at some of the figures around safety in agriculture and think about ways we can reduce these stats. Reducing these figures is a team effort,” says Gary.

For figures on how the industry has been impacted by the lack of safety measure put into place, see below links:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics

http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/aghealth/uploaded/Research%20Reports/Farm%20Related%20Injuries%20-%20Final%20Report%202017.pdf

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1702/work-related-injuries-fatalities-farms.pdf