A united approach to saving lives

For Timboon livestock agent Tim, experiencing a workplace fatality has given him a unique perspective on safety that differs from many other experienced agents and farmers. This is why he's passionate about sharing his perspective with the next generation.

"I live with what I saw every day. When I sit down and talk to a farmer and say, 'I've seen what happens when things are 95 per cent right', I feel that I've got a good way of engaging the farmer to get them to respond and make a positive change."


As agriculture continues to evolve and new people enter the industry, Tim sees an opportunity to embed a positive safety culture in future farmers and agents. "I think it's important that we make sure livestock agents feel comfortable having safety conversations with farmers," says Tim.

"If younger stock agents go to stockyards now and they think something's not right, they will ring me, or they'll get me to go out and have a look at it.

"It's about changing people's mindset," Tim adds.

Education and open communication are essential to embedding a positive safety culture in the agriculture industry.

"The other day I went out with a new livestock agent. I took them with me around a few yards and said this is what's good, what's bad, and made sure that they’re aware that if they feel uncomfortable, they’re allowed to say no," says Tim.

"A lot of it is about training. We're trying to proactively have it in their head before they go out on farms."

Tim knows farmers are ultimately responsible for the safety of people who visit and work on their properties, but he also believes open dialogue between farmers and agents is essential to safer farms now and in the future.

"I'm always happy to initiate those conversations. When I visit a farm, I sort of take the lead for my own safety if I'm going to work in the livestock yards. So that way if there's any safety issues there, we can address it with the farmer," says Tim.

"Issues, whether small or large, should be addressed straightaway. If they aren't, it can lead to a larger issue, which can result in an injury or a near-miss."


For Peter safety is something he is continuously building on over time.

"The most dangerous part of my work is the unknown. Having conversations with farmers is essential to being able to evaluate how safe a situation is and being able to take yourself out of something that isn't as safe as it should be."

Tim's experiences have left him with an approach that he wants to share with other agents and farmers who might not prioritise safety.

"If we start doing work on-farm and we see something that's not right, or not working, we have that conversation with the farmer and ask them to fix it before we continue or make these upgrades. 99 per cent of farmers are open to that and they will do what we ask," says Tim.

"Providing safety feedback - as part of a safety culture - to our clients and farmers is critically important. If we see something that we don't feel is right, and we don't let the client know, and then something happens down the track, I personally would feel bad for not raising it."

Tim's final message for livestock agents and farmers alike:

"If it's not safe, make it safe. If you can't make it safe, don't do it."


Tim has shared his 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.

Livestock is the second highest killer on farms – we all know cattle can be unpredictable. Alongside the beef cattle industry, WorkSafe has developed new cattle handling information to help keep everyone safe.