Worksafe Victoria pursued a 12-month campaign to help rectify and eliminate the root causes of traumas and fatalities amongst agricultural places in Victoria covering more than four hundred sixty farms. In the course of the campaign, the safety inspectors focused on beef cattle farms and dairy with specific attention to animal handling, unsafe manual handling and hazardous machinery.
Around three hundred seventy five improvement notices were issued by WorkSafe inspectors. Some more sixty four breaches were actually dealt with by employers in the workplace itself during the 12-month campaign. Out of the three hundred seventy five notices, approximately 30% were inflicted by machinery. On that 30%, nearly half of it is due to poor workplace guidance.
“Machinery and attachments that are used incorrectly, poorly maintained and inadequately guarded is still the biggest problem on farms. Farmers are practical and creative but machinery should only be used for the purpose it’s intended. “, said WorkSafe chief executive Denise Cosgrove. The WorkSafe chief executive added that the beef farms and dairy had been granted a priority as 50% of agriculture's 1,000 claims on serious injuries happened on livestock farms over the past two years.
Trips, slips, fall hazards, poor ladder access to silos, lack of personal protective equipment and neglect in securing chemical register and Material Safety Data sheets that offer safe storage and handling advice were also included in the safety issues being identified in the course of the campaign. Around seven involved in the machinery and two in handling of animals comprised the nine fatalities that happened in Victoria farms over the same period.
WorkSafe Victoria argued that the cost and impact an injury or fatality has on the individual, the family business and the community, particularly in country areas, is immense, around 1,000 serious injury claims are only the tip of the iceberg as many farmers operate hobby farms or are self-employed and do not fall within the workers’ compensation system.
“Our priority is to ensure workplaces are as safe as possible and that workers get to go home to loved ones at the end of the day.”, said Ms. Cosgrove.
WorkSafe Australia shared some safety tips for the farms:
- Ensure livestock handling equipment/infrastructure is fit for breed characteristics and cattle size.
- Build gates with spring loaded latches in yards
- Build cat walks on loading race and make sure ramps have both sides covered.
- Secure yard design to permit safe exit in case of emergency
- Maintain yards, pens and gates.
- Wearing of helmets for quad bike operators.