Common sense the key to farm safety

Farmers are being warned that a simple choice can have tragic consequences and that they must plan ahead and prioritise safety in each and every task.


The warning from WorkSafe follows twelve workplace deaths from incidents on Victorian farms since July 2017, an average of one a month.

Six people have died as a result of on-farm workplace incidents since January 1, which is half of the workplace deaths that have occurred in Victoria so far in 2018.

The plea to put safety first comes as National Farm Safety Week highlights the many simple things that farmers can do to make their workplaces safer for themselves, workers and family members.

WorkSafe Head of Hazardous Industries and Industry Practice Michael Coffey said too many farm deaths were the result of one decision, often made in haste.

"There is no disputing there are all kinds of risks in farming. The work can be awkward and arduous, it can involve machinery, heavy lifting and dealing with large and unpredictable animals," Mr Coffey said.

"But fatalities and serious injuries occurring on farms are also being caused by the way in which the work is being done, or by people not using available safety devices."

"It is people not wearing helmets while riding motorbikes or quadbikes, not wearing fitted seat belts, not making sure guards are in place following maintenance, working too close to moving vehicles, or one person trying to do every task themselves rather than asking for help."

Mr Coffey said keeping safety front of mind for each task was crucial to making farming workplaces safer.

"Experience doesn't prevent fatalities or injuries on farms. Carrying out the same tasks every day can often lead to complacency and people taking short cuts to save time or money," Mr Coffey said.

"But time and money mean nothing to the loved ones left behind.

"Think about the task at hand and how it can be carried out safely. This may mean using the right equipment for the job, calling in specialist contractors, or if it involves working alone, letting someone know where you will be."

Mr Coffey said National Farm Safety Week was also an opportunity to remind farmers that the quad bike rebate, to assist farmers to fit roll over protections devices to their bikes, or help pay for a more terrain appropriate vehicle, was still available through the Victorian Farmers Federation.

"It is a tragic fact that many people have died after being crushed or asphyxiated beneath quad bikes which have not been fitted with rollover protection devices."

Tips for making your farm safe:

  • Plan ahead. Think about each and every job and how it can be carried out safely.
  • Use the right equipment for the job.
  • If you're working alone, let someone know where you will be, and check-in so people know where you are.
  • Ensure all machinery is switched off and disengaged when undertaking maintenance.
  • Don't try and do everything yourself, engage specialists if necessary.
  • Never think that experience will prevent accidents.