Farmers urged to put safety first as fatalities soar

Victorian farmers are being urged to make safety a critical part of their daily routine after a shocking six months in which eight people have died in workplace incidents on farms across the state.


Of the eight farm-related fatalities so far this year:

  • Tractors have been involved in four deaths
  • Seven fatalities have involved workers aged over 40
  • The oldest person was 68, and the youngest was 38

The eight fatalities already equal the total number of farmers and workers killed on farms in Victoria last year. The grim toll also makes up more than half of the 15 workplace deaths that have occurred in Victoria so far in 2017.

WorkSafe’s plea to put safety first has been released ahead of National Farm Safety Week, which runs from 17-21 July.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the horrendous toll should make everyone in agriculture think carefully about the risks involved in farm activities and plan accordingly.

“Agriculture is a high-risk industry but that should never mean fatalities and injuries are accepted as part of the job,” Ms Williams said. “However, it makes it essential that that the risks involved in every task must be planned for and the work carried out accordingly.”

Ms Williams said WorkSafe research had revealed that the majority of farm fatalities were experienced farmers doing activities they had done many times before.

“Farmers should never think that experience will prevent accidents,” Ms Williams said. “As we see year after year, it’s often experienced farmers doing everyday tasks that fail to come home at the end of the day,” Ms Williams said.

“That is why it is critical to take a few moments before the day gets underway to think about how to do each and every job safely. Any measure that could help prevent tragedy is worth it.”

Four steps to a safer farm

  • Plan each task with safety in mind.
  • Use the right equipment for the task.
  • Let someone know where you will be working and stay in touch throughout the day.
  • Ensure all machinery is switched off and disengaged before undertaking any maintenance.

Farm fatalities

  • 11 Jan: A 61-year-old woman was struck by a truck as she drove a tractor and trailer loaded with fruit across a road at Narrung.
  • 17 Feb: A 38-year-old man died when a quad bike towing a trailer flipped and rolled at Reedy Flat, East Gippsland.
  • 17 Mar: A 68-year-old man fell after he was struck by a tractor that he jump started in a machinery shed at Meredith.
  • 23 Mar: A 53-year-old man was run over by a tractor while picking grapes at Wandin East.
  • 23 Mar: A 47-year-old man fell from a trailer being pulled by a tractor at Myrrhee.
  • 29 Mar: A 64 year-old man died when the cabin of his prime mover was crushed at Allansford.
  • 20 June: A 55-year-old man died from crush injuries after the spreader truck he was using rolled on steep terrain at Limestone, near Yea.
  • 21 June: A 45-year-old man died when he fell from a stationary truck at a chicken breeding farm at Freshwater Creek, near Geelong.