Balancing confidence and caution on-farm

Having both grown up in family farming operations, Ballangeich sheep farmers Taylor and Paul have long shared a passion for farming. Now the pair run their own farm and are balancing the complexities and demands that come with farming, being responsible for contractors and raising children.

"The challenging thing about farming is the seasonality and then obviously it's not just like you can wake up and just not go check the cows and not go check the sheep. It's a full-time thing, seven days a week," says Taylor.

"Even when you're lying in bed at night, there's no off button. You're always thinking about things you have to remember to do by a certain time. It never ends."

Despite the fatigue that can come with the demanding nature of running a farm, it's the freedom of their day-to-day schedule that makes these challenges worth it.

"Paul and I have been farming all our lives and it's more or less the freedom that comes with open-air living that we love most. It makes it all worth it," says Taylor.

Taylor and Paul have worked across sheep, cattle and dairy and it's this experience that gives them an understanding of the many challenges that come with farming.

"Common sense will only get you so far. Proper training and inductions for our staff must come into play because we can’t rely on common sense."


"As we are a family operation, we haven’t tended to use contractors, but recently we started. It's been a big burden to think about something happening to our contractors - I wouldn't want to walk around knowing that one of my workers had a bad incident or passed away," says Taylor.

"I'm not sure I could live with that."

For Taylor and Paul their employees are like family and keeping them safe and minimising risks is one of their primary focuses.

"We just recently started creating the standard operating procedures and the job description, signing workers off, inductions and all of that," said Paul.

"I think that gave everyone a greater understanding of the importance of safety with the four-wheeler especially - we've got a rollover bar and everything and we made it clear that the helmet must be worn. That's why we gave our contractors a standard operating procedure."

"I don't think that anyone is safe regardless of how much experience you have."


To manage the risks that come with farming, Taylor believes it's important for farmers to keep their confidence in check.

"I think confidence is a good thing to have but not too much. In my opinion you want enough confidence to do your job well, but don't have too much confidence that you think you’re invincible, because no one's invincible," says Taylor.

Both Taylor and Paul believe proactive safety measures and communication with their staff are the key to reducing the likelihood of an incident happening on-farm and can be the difference between life and death.

"Farmers often see an issue and think they will get onto updating it one day, but one day is normally too late before the actual incident happens," says Taylor.

"It takes one second for something to happen."

Taylor and Paul have shared their story as part of WorkSafe Victoria's 'It's never you, until it is' campaign, which promotes farm safety and highlights that injuries and death on farms are preventable.

You might think putting on the safety gear will take longer than doing the job. But that doesn’t reduce the risk. To make sure you can come home in one piece; check you’ve got the right safety gear for the job.