A Unique Focus on One of Our Most Critical Industries - Agriculture

Why we must protect it!

Are you aware that the agricultural and equine sectors have some of the highest injury and fatality rates of any Australian industries? SafeWork Australia have reported that 1 in 5 workplace fatalities occur in these industries every year. These industries employ the highest rate of older workers with 16% of employees aged over 65.

Majority of workers in these industries are not aware of the significant risks that may accompany the job. Using machinery such as tractors, quadbikes, and other large plant to dangerous chemicals including herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers all require a high level of experience and knowledge to use safely. Beyond everyday equipment, workers are also exposed to the constant threat of extreme weather events, the possibility of needing to use firearms and handling animals, which account for 20% of serious injuries.

I remember a story that had occurred in Temora, NSW in the early 1900's about a 17 year old man who was witness to his brother falling off his horse and breaking his back. His parents who had to stay and run the farm, instructed him to take his injured brother by horse and cart to the Sydney hospital for treatment. That’s some 430 kilometres and one bumpy road in the early 1900’s. The injured boy who was just a teenager himself, died on that journey. Fast forward 100 years to this morning when I got to work, I learnt that my close friend and colleague had been bucked off her horse and was in hospital with two fractured vertebrae. So what has changed? Thankfully for my friend, access to healthcare has improved as has the advancement of modern medicine. What has not changed is the fact that working with animals is still a very dangerous business.

In regards to farming machinery, over the weekend I heard a story about a friend who lives on a property just outside Grafton NSW. He said he had a close call while repairing his ride-on mower. Working alone he had it jacked up to carry out some repairs. The jack slipped and the mower pinned him down. Its fortunate that his fury of hurting his head ignited hulk like strength that triggered him to lift the mower off so he could free himself. He said he felt very lucky that day.

These stories demonstrate that risk of accidents, serious injuries and even death are just as prevalent today as they were many years ago. We may have improved our incident response, but we are still seeing many risks being unmanaged in the workplace, particularly within the equine and agricultural industries.

As a nation our economy is heavily dependent on these industries. Farming alone, supports 19.4% of all goods exported. We need to protect it as best we can.

I recently met with one of our PlanSafe Partners, Daniel Bowcock. Daniel is Managing Director of Safe Industries Australia and has 30 years of experience working in the agricultural, cropping and livestock and thoroughbred industries. He has also managed his own business in the construction, earthmoving and waste management industries for a number of years. Throughout these various jobs, he has always strongly advocated for correct Work Health and Safety (WHS) systems.

After recognising the risks involved when working within these industries, Daniel saw a demand for a system to assist farmers and breeders to keep their workplace up to date with WHS requirements, “We needed a system that could ensure employers are prioritising the safety of their workers by minimising risks in day-to-day operations.” – Daniel Bowcock

Safe Industries Australia (SIA) and Locatrix have consolidated their resources to offer an Online Induction Platform tailored to each industry and workplace. From small to large WHS platforms available, site specific features are designed to be user friendly.

The online platform makes complying with WHS regulations simple, “Before we heard about PlanSafe, we had no online system and were still operating using a paper-based system. We saw the industry need to go online, and after being introduced to Locatrix and PlanSafe through a client, we knew it was possible to offer our services digitally.” – Daniel Bowcock

A successful WHS system is not a set and forget process. After implementing the WHS system, SIA stays with you for the journey, “With PlanSafe we can offer a system with no downtime during setup and implementation. Once in place, SIA through PlanSafe ensure all legislative requirements are met on an ongoing basis.” – Daniel Bowcock

SIA provide simple WHS systems for unique clients. SafeWork Australia have been closely following the agricultural industry, “A lot of farmers are doing nothing in relation to WHS and expose themselves to financial penalties and even jail terms from SafeWork prosecutions.” - Daniel Bowcock

Our goal is to make sure your workers get home safely. Having an effective WHS system in place within your workplace is a legal requirement for all business owners and operators. It assists you to meet your legislative responsibilities and ensures the health and safety of your workers”.

By Helen Hall - Executive Manager Marketing Communications, Locatrix