Twelve Victorians have lost their lives in on-farm workplace accidents so far this year, the worst figures in a decade.
The figures include three deaths that occurred in less than a week, with the total three more than the nine on-farm deaths that occurred in 2016.
Sheep, beef cattle and grain farming continue to be the most deadly agriculture industries across the country, accounting for two-thirds of deaths within the past decade.
VFF president David Jochinke reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to reducing the number of on-farm deaths and said steps needed to be taken to improve safety.
‘‘(The number of deaths this year) absolutely concerns me ... We need to own the issue and make sure everyone can get home safely. It’s about changing the culture and making sure there’s programs to reduce the risks as much as possible,’’ he said.
Mr Jochinke said the VFF had recently employed a farm safety officer and would be officially launching a program in the new year encouraging farmers to undertake on-farm safety audits.
‘‘Everyone needs to be safe, take five, sit back and consider the risks. We realise that you can never 100 per cent remove risks but you can work to reduce them,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘(Changing the culture) starts by having the conversation and making sure your family are aware of the hazards ... Anyone who is injured costs time and money and puts a strain on loved ones.’’
With harvest in full swing, WorkSafe’s Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice head Michael Coffey reminded farmers to plan ahead and not make hasty decisions.
‘‘Nothing is more important than your life, and that of your workers, so please don’t cut corners with safety ... Rushing to do the job can lead to fatigue which, in turn, can lead to bad decisions,’’ he said.
This year has seen a number of deaths in northern Victoria including that of a 47-year-old man who died when he fell from a trailer being pulled by a tractor at Myrrhee, and a 55-year-old man who died from crush injuries after a spreader truck he was using rolled on steep terrain at Limestone, near Yea.
Of the 279 fatalities across the past decade, 71 per cent have involved a vehicle, with tractors and quad bikes the vehicles most frequently involved.