Letter to the Editor: Experienced farmers most likely to die

26 May 2016

The recent deaths of three men in three days in separate farm incidents are terrible tragedies, and our thoughts are with their families, friends and communities as they mourn their loss.

But what also should be concerning for everyone is that deaths on Victorian farms occur with such sickening regularity.

Agriculture employs just three per cent of Victorian workers but accounts for almost 30 per cent of workplace fatalities. And these statistics don’t take into account fatalities on hobby farms, lifestyle properties and small landholdings.

Surprisingly, it is experienced farmers who are most likely to die.

Perhaps they are doing something they have done a thousand times before and aren’t focusing on the job at hand.

Perhaps they’re working long hours and they’re tired. Maybe financial pressures are forcing them to cut corners with maintenance.

Perhaps they simply believe that it can’t happen to them. But it can, and it will, if they don’t make safety their number one priority.

It is undeniable that farming is a high-risk occupation. Farmers work with a range of heavy machinery and usually work alone and a long way from help if an incident occurs. So it is vital farmers take a few moments before every task to think about safety.

They should do it not just for themselves, but so their families and friends aren’t left to suffer a lifetime of grief.

 

Marnie Williams

Executive Director of Health and Safety

WorkSafe Victoria

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