Chairman Ann Sherry of Safe Work Australia was surprised by the staggering results considering that there are only 3% of workers that are employed in the agriculture industry. She further explained, "On average, 44 farm workers are killed each year and another 17,400 suffer a work-related injury. This is a significant number of injuries and deaths occurring within the agriculture sector."
The major highlights of the results were as follows:
1. Almost 75% of work related injuries and fatalities were caused by vehicles.
- Around 93 farm labourers died while using a tractor. Half of these have an age of 65 years. A rollover caused the deaths of approximately one thirds of deaths.
- Some 48 workers claimed the lives of aircraft incidents (while mustering or crop-dusting).
- Quad bikes killed 27 people of which 20 of those were caused by a rollover.
2. The work related fatalities on Australian farms victimised workers aged 65 years and above. The figure is equivalent to almost 3 times the proportion of the age bracket representing the entire worker fatalities in actual Australian workplaces.
3. Motorbike and horse-related incidents are the causes of deaths among young farm workers. Older labourers have more incidences of hospitalisations from contact with machinery.
4. The 50% of Australian agriculture workers were covered by worker's compensation while 46% are self employed.
Agricultural sector was identified as one of the high priorities under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 - 2022. The sector is collaborating with regulators, labour unions, industry and the farming community to find efficient and cost effective ways to prevent the hazards farmers face everyday. A reward system was set for regulators who adopt safety measures in plants and increased awareness.
The risks and hazards that were being addressed at the national level in the farming sector are the labelling of pesticides and use of quad bikes. Quad bike safety is being discussed through continuous consultations regarding the fitting of crush protection devices to quad bikes and by limiting the use of quad bikes by children.
The new harmonised Work Health and Safety regulations will impose the recent changes to pesticide labelling requirements. This regulation aims to educate the public of the hazards of farm chemicals that will result in safer outcomes from handling of chemicals on farms.
Industry regulators in agriculture had exerted efforts to curtail the surprising statistics on death tolls through collaboration with the government and imposing work health and safety measures.