Farms should be secure for your livestock and crops, but most importantly for your farm workers
Creating a safe work environment for workers should be a priority, especially when it comes to the agriculture and farming industry. Safe Work Australia, an Australian government statutory agency that primarily focuses on improving work, health, and safety across Australia, says that the agriculture sector has the highest fatality rate of any Australian industry. Fatalities in this industry make up a total of 21% of worker fatalities experienced across all industries within the country, which makes it one of the most dangerous industries to work in.
Farm staff work across many different areas, such as with large-scale machinery, animals, and chemicals, which means safety needs to be a massive consideration in every area of a farm, not an after-thought after an incident has occurred. Most incidents can be prevented provided safety measures and procedures have been put in place, and that all staff follow these measures.
Constant evaluation of your farm can ensure that you are aware of any potential risks and that you’ve done your best to eliminate them. Having plans in place is the best way to reduce further risk and to improve farm safety.
Top 3 most common farm hazards
While there are many hazards found on farms, below we discuss the top three experienced across farms of all sizes:
Because of the nature of farming, staff are often involved in chemical usage, whether for animals or crops. This means that they are constantly around products such as pesticides and herbicides, which can cause poisoning or respiratory illnesses if handled incorrectly. Unfortunately, farmers’ nervous systems are often the most impacted by chemical exposure, particularly widely used pesticides.
Machinery is one of the most overlooked hazards simply because of daily use, normalising operations. Large-scale machinery with unguarded moving parts invite incidents to happen (more often than not, occurring from farm visitors, or from items getting trapped in moving parts). Other machinery, such as tractors or quad bikes, can easily roll over if not handled correctly. Safe Work Australia points out that 66% of workers’ fatalities are a result of involvement in a single vehicle incident, with 36% from driving a tractor, 16% driving a quad bike, 7% from driving a truck and 7% of deaths as a result of being killed by a vehicle they weren’t driving.
Although domesticated, livestock can still cause serious injuries to staff through bites and kicks, including ramming. Staff need to be aware of the possibility of transmission of infectious diseases. These including ring worm and leptospirosis, to name a few, which can easily spread through contact with infected livestock. Livestock activities, particularly handing and transport, cause an estimated 12% to 14% of serious injuries on the farm.
Making your farm safe
Education and planning
Never underestimate the importance of educating yourself and your employees on farm safety, especially with regards to specific areas of your farm (for example, chemical handling and use, animal handling, and machinery use). It is important that you have a documented plan for these areas which are constantly reviewed to ensure risk is minimised.
Even though farm animals are domesticated, they are still unpredictable which makes them dangerous as they could bite or kick. Safe Work Australia advises that you restrain animals properly before working on them, and “avoid working alone when loading or unloading stock”. If you can’t help but work alone, always let someone know what you are doing and how long you’ll be so that they can come check up on you if you exceed your timeframe. They strongly recommend always having a first aid kit near the area of work. It is also advisable to actually have someone on the farm who is trained in first aid.
Vehicle roll-over protection
Roll-over protection structures (ROPS) and roll-over alerting features for quad bikes or tractors can help prevent injuries. If a vehicle rolls over, such as a tractor or a quad bike, alerting functionality can send notifications to the farm alerting them of a roll-over providing a quicker response time. Farmdeck’s Quad Bike Rollover feature sends out an alert in real-time when the vehicle is not upright. This feature combined with our Vehicle Tracking, means that you can attend to any quad bike accidents more promptly than ever.
Safe Work Australia recommends referring to your specific state work health and safety authority for additional advice on agrichemicals. Click on the states below to be directed to your relevant authority:
Let us help you make your farm safer and more efficient
Our single platform collects and manages all your farm, livestock, and paddocks details, giving you visibility on all the information gathered by your sensors. Notifications are sent out to alert you of something happening on your farm through the information derived from our sensors. Talk to us today about creating a tailored solution to your unique farm requirements.