About Safe Hands ambassador: Paralympian Scott Reardon

Scott is a four-time water skiing world champion and Paralympic gold medallist for the T42 100m sprint. In 2002, at the age of 12, Scott was involved in an accident on his family’s farm in Temora NSW.

He was two and a half kilometres down the paddock and 25km from the nearest hospital. The accident resulted in Scott losing his lower right leg and spending almost a month in hospital in Canberra. Less than 12 months after his accident Scott re-learned to water ski and began competing in the sport. He went on to become a world champion before moving on to competitive sprinting.

In order to “reduce accidents waiting to happen”, Scott became the ambassador for Safe Hands Australia and travels the county giving presentations on workplace health and safety, resilience and motivational topics.

This week is Farm Safety Week. What is your outlook on farm safety?

I was involved in a workplace accident on a farm just over 16 years ago and since then I have seen a need to prevent something like that happening to somebody else. I really hope I can change the way people treat farm safety, and get people to take that extra second to think and assess the risks before they start a task.

Workplace safety doesn’t have to be a long, slow process. It’s about taking moments to think about what you’re about to do. The effects of something happening aren’t just immediate to the person in the accident – they extend to the person’s family and community, especially farming communities which tend to be tight-knit. Being in a farming community for the first 18 years of my life I know firsthand the impact accidents have on the wider community.

What was the main factor involved in you becoming a Safe Hands ambassador?

I see so many people who are affected by workplace accidents on farms. I want to do as much as I can to reduce risk and make sure that farmers in high risk environments take the time and precautions needed to ensure their safety. Hopefully we can save a few lives along the way.

As an ambassador for Safe Hands, what are the kind of things you do to prevent workplace accidents?

I have been working with workplace safety for a number of years now, and my main role has been to go into businesses to talk about the bigger picture regarding workplace safety. The rules and regulations around workplace safety are often long and complicated, and among farming workplaces can be seen to make things slower and less productive. I go in there and give people a reason why workplace safety is important, highlighting how it affects not only your immediate self but your family and community. I try to give people reasons to start thinking about what they are doing, and generally to change people’s’ mindsets surrounding workplace safety.

Risk assessments become ingrained in to what we do on a daily basis. For example when we approach a road, we look both ways before crossing. Checking twice doesn’t take any time out of our day, and we greatly reduce the chance of getting hit by a car by doing so. This should be the same when it comes to farm safety.

Have you seen a difference in workplace safety practices because of Safe Hands and Farm Safety Week?

I think it does make a difference. I think if you have been through something like I have, it offers a different perspective on workplace safety. It is vitally important because it connects the dots in regards to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ things like farm safety are important.I have definitely seen a change in the mentality of workers and their employees. Businesses are taking a more proactive approach to workplace safety. They are looking after their workers and making sure they get to and from work safely, and ensuring their safety during work hours as well. I think it’s fantastic when we can work together.

This year’s theme for Farm Safety Week is “ Innovative, safe and healthy”. What role can innovation and technology play in reducing the number of on-farm accidents?
In terms of innovation and workplace safety, there are so many safeguards that have been developed in farming infrastructure and machinery. Technology is always going to be a part of workplace safety as a way of moving forward and removing risks. You’re never going to be able to replace the role of a human in assessing risk, especially in the farming industry, but we can use innovation and technology to see things that we can’t see so as to minimise risk as much as possible. It’s going to be interesting to see where innovation and workplace safety go. I am looking forward to seeing how the world comes up with things on how we can do things safer and what will be out there in the future to keep our farmers safe.

Finally, what is the main message you would like people to take away from this week?

The main message I would like to send is to encourage people to think before they set out to do a task. I believe that workplace safety is the biggest thing, above all the rules and regulations.
Often when I go into a workplace the workers are not conscious about their safety. If we can shift that mindset and the way people are thinking and the way they process risks, they start to become conscious about safety and able to identify risks.

The mindset around workplace safety is vitally important and we need to try to stop farmers from thinking that rules and regulations make things more difficult and time consuming. We need to get them to think before they do something, change the way they think in dangerous environments, and hopefully we can save a few lives along the way.

For more information visit Safe Hands Australia or Farmsafe Australia.



Andrea Martinello

Andrea Martinello

Andrea is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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