Time to improve farm safety for next generation

WorkSafe Victoria is urging farming families to learn from the past to create a safer future during National Farm Safety Week.


Farming is a business often passed down through generations. Now is the right time to build safe practices into business operations to ensure an enviable farming lifestyle into the future.

Agriculture remains one of the state's most dangerous industries and sadly four lives have already been lost in 2021 and 24 people have died as a result of workplace incidents in agriculture in the past three years.

On top of this, more than one person every day working in agriculture is injured badly enough to lodge a worker's compensation claim.

Farming is in the blood for Beeac brothers Tom and Bill Alston, who are managing directors of 6500-acre Stonyhurst Pastoral. Although they are following in their family's footsteps, they are always seeking new ways to improve their operation, including when it comes to safety.

In a video with WorkSafe, the third-generation farmers share how they have made improvements on the farm including introducing drones to muster sheep, which has brought both productivity and safety benefits.

"Both my grandparents were farmers, so I was born into the lifestyle – and hopefully my kids follow my steps," Tom Alston said.

"I think there's a bad culture in farming that my father did it that way and my father's father did it that way, so that's just the way it should be done.

"I think that needs to change a fair bit because there's a lot of farming practices can be done a lot safer and a lot better."

Mr Alston said there was plenty of help available for farmers choosing to make safety improvements.

"My advice to anyone on a farm or agricultural setting would be to get in touch with your local WorkSafe team, have a chat and get them out, have a look around and see what you can implement. It would probably surprise you to know the little things you can do to improve the day-to-day safety of yourself or anyone working in that environment," he said.

WorkSafe Acting Head of Specialist Programs and Licensing Rob Kelly said National Farm Safety Week was a good opportunity for farmers to review their business and ensure they were prioritising safety.

"We know the 'it'll be right' attitude that is common in agriculture can have deadly consequences. Just because you know your farm and have been working it all your life doesn't mean you can let safety take a back seat," Mr Kelly said.

"Taking time to ensure you are providing a safe work environment for yourself, your family and your workers is also the best way to build a productive and sustainable business that can be passed down to the next generation."

Tom and Bill Alston – Stonyhurst Pastoral

Related information