Providing a safe and healthy workplace on the farm

Workplace manslaughter is a criminal offence under occupational health and safety laws. Here are general tips for ensuring your farm is a safe and healthy workplace.

Background

Workplace manslaughter is now a criminal offence under occupational health and safety laws. Farm owners, managers and directors must ensure a safe and healthy workplace – if someone dies on your farm, you could be prosecuted under the new law.

This new law doesn't create additional responsibilities; it just introduces tougher penalties. If you're already complying with your work health and safety duties, and continue to, you're doing the right thing. If you're not complying, and not thinking about workplace risk, the consequences can be much tougher.

The two most likely causes of farm deaths

The most common ways fatalities occur in an agricultural workplace involve tractors, followed by quad bikes and livestock.

Powered plant and machinery

Particularly involving run over or rollover by:

  • Tractors
  • Quad bikes
  • Bailers
  • Forklifts
Powered plant and machinery

Livestock

Crush injuries can occur when:

  • drafting cattle
  • loading cattle
  • working with cattle in the crush
Livestock

These aren't the only dangers on farms. Whatever job you and your workers are doing on the farm, always think of safety first. Consider what could go wrong and how to stop that happening, discuss with your workers and take action to make sure you’re providing a safe workplace.

Top tips

  • Identify and assess hazards, dangers or risks on your farm.
    • Eliminate the hazards, dangers or risks – if you can't eliminate them, then minimise them as much as possible.
      • Have regular safety conversations with your workers and visitors.
        • Provide appropriate information, instruction and training for everyone working on your farm.
          • Provide workers with appropriate supervision and mentoring in safety.
            • Remember you're responsible for contractors, visitors and family staying safe on your farm.
              • Keep up to date with health and safety – consider a health and safety course for the farm owner, manager or family member.
                • Start a safety group with other like-minded farmers or discuss what others are doing when you catch up with them at industry events.
                  • Keep records of your safety actions and the conversations you have about safety.

                    Your farm health and safety legal duties

                    As a farmer you may be self-employed, employ people, or manage and control a farm. Regardless, you have occupational health and safety responsibilities, including:

                    • ensuring your farm is a safe working environment without risks to the health of your workers
                      • ensuring farm activities don't expose anyone (for example, family, workers, contractors, visitors) to health and safety risks
                        • ensuring people can enter and leave the farm safely, and without risk to their health (including people making deliveries on farm)

                          More information

                          • WorkSafe's tools and handbooks can help you find common hazards, assess the risks and set up suitable controls for your farm.
                            • Speak to your farming industry organisation about farm safety.
                              • Learn more about the new workplace manslaughter laws on the WorkSafe website.
                                • Apply to have a safety consultant come to your farm via WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program.