Farm Safety Council aims to prevent death and injuries

By Jamie Salter

A newly established Farm Safety Council is providing advice to the Victorian Government and agriculture sector on how to reduce injuries and deaths on Victorian farms.

The latest WorkSafe Victoria statistics show there have been nine on-farm fatalities in the past year.

Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes established the new council and has provided guidance on activities that could be prioritised to make farms safer.

“We want our farms to be safe places for those who live, work or visit them,” Ms Symes said.

“The advice provided by the Farm Safety Council will guide industry and government on what can be done to make farms safer.”

The council includes members from 10 organisations, including Kidsafe Victoria, National Centre for Farmer Health, Victorian Agriculture Horticulture and Conservation Training Network, Australian Workers Union, VFF, United Workers Union, WorkSafe Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, Agriculture Victoria and the Department of Education and Training.

VFF president David Jochinke said the new council would help develop frameworks and initiatives to embed safety culture onto Australian farms.

“Almost half of workplace deaths involve heavy machinery and a key area we will look at is reassessing the jobs we do and evaluating if they are safe,” Mr Jochinke said.

“We have the capacity to provide services such as safety inspections, to highlight common dangers on the farm, and we can provide any feedback from that to the council.”

Victorian Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy said farms continued to be one of the deadliest workplaces.

“It’s important that we use the stories and information given to us through this council to make sure every person on a farm gets home from work safely,” she said.

The council will create links with other programs that focus on the safety, health and wellbeing of farmers and their families.

This includes the $6 million Quad Bike Rebate Scheme, mental health support being provided through drought and bushfire recovery, and industry-led services such as Dairy Australia’s farm safety programs.

The Farm Safety Council is part of the Victorian Government’s $20 million Victoria’s Smarter, Safer Farms program.