Sheep contractor and cropping machinery operator.


The shared responsibility to make farms safe

"I've worked on sheep, cattle, dairy and cropping farms,” says Will. "I've even worked on a vineyard for a while."

The 26-year-old sheep contractor and cropping machinery operator may not have spent decades on the land, but from working with different farmers and business operators he knows his way around a farm and can spot a problem quickly.

"On the cropping farm where I currently work, we have a lot of gear like tractors, a sprayer, a header, a truck and some loaders. We don't let anyone drive the truck without a licence."

Will says that each farm is unique and has different risks, which is how he's come to understand the important role that safety plays on farms.

"I know a bloke on a farm who got crushed by a load of pallets he was carrying with a forklift. And I've heard of people losing fingers in augers and getting run over because they opened a gate and didn’t put the park brake on their vehicle," explains Will.

"Some farmers are very safety conscious, but it depends on the owner and operator."

While farmers have their own unique approaches to safety, Will believes he can take personal responsibility for his own safety through precautions to reduce risk.

"The other thing with safety, especially with sheep is the longer the sheep are in the yards, the more agitated they get, so I always try be as efficient as possible to get the sheep out of the yards."

"When it comes to machinery, anything that I use, and I have to get out and do something with it - I'll turn it off straight away. While everything has a safety switch, I always turn it off. You can never rely on a safety switch."

Like many farmers, Will often works long hours alone on the land. However, he has strategies in place to stay safe, including telling someone where he's working and when he expects to be back, carrying a mobile phone with him in case of an emergency and taking regular breaks to avoid fatigue.

"Fatigue is a real risk. When you’re tired and sore from working animals all day or driving big cropping machinery, you can start to make mistakes. These mistakes can cost you profit, but they can also cost you your health and safety."


"When I'm cropping and driving all day and I start to feel tired or I notice I'm making mistakes with the header, I'll stop and get someone else to take over. It’s better for everyone."

Despite Will's experience in farming, he continues to take a proactive approach to safety and doesn't rely on his skill and knowledge alone.

"You never think of yourself getting hurt - it's other people,"

"To be safe yourself is great, but you've also got to protect everyone else around you"


Will says safety is something farmers can achieve at all ages and experience levels.

"Your age and experience level doesn't ensure your safety - you can get 18-year-olds that are mature and great on the farm, and you can also get ones that aren't mature at all, and they are a hazard to everyone. But you can also have a 40-year-old and they have no idea what's going on and can put people in danger."

"My big thing is that if you have an incident at work, and especially when you're young, it's going to burden you for the rest of your life."

Will's seen how the burden that incidents have on people goes beyond just those who are injured.

"I worked with a bloke who had a crook back and he did it when he was 20 and he could barely walk when he was 60. It's mainly the long-term stress you put on your body and the impact on the people around you," said Will.

"My mum obviously wants me to come home at the end of the day."


Will is committed to lifelong learning in farming and agriculture. He knows there is always more to learn, and he is always looking for new ways to improve his skills and knowledge. He hopes other farmers will embrace this same approach to learning, so they can all continue to grow and succeed in the industry.

"For me, if I'm doing something new, I'll take my time. Whereas some people just go at it hard, and I think that's when incidents happen," explains Will.

"Every farm is different, so if you're not sure about what you're doing, or how to do it safety, you should definitely ask someone or get someone else to do it if you’re not confident."


Will 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.

Working long multiple days in a row by yourself can be part of the job. But even one day of 17 continuous hours causes impairment equivalent to .05 blood alcohol concentration. Consider the cost to you and your family. Don’t let long hours come at the price of you being injured or worse.

Know the signs and find ways to reduce the risk of fatigue