The safety of farmers is important to everyone – from the farmer to the community they help feed and supply. With the theme of this farm safety week focusing on innovation, health and safety, it is important to mark the role that technology and innovation can play in making farms safer for everyone.
Whether this be through increased awareness of farm safety via digital mediums, or through the role technology can play in enhancing the safety of farm machinery and equipment, there is obvious room for growth and improvement.
Improvements in farming safety will not only enhance the quality of life of farmers and their families, it will help improve the bottom line. According to Charles Armstrong, Chairman of Farmsafe Australia, “safe farms are profitable farms”. It is thus important to make farms as safe as they can possibly be.
Farm fatalities are already at unacceptably high levels. In 2017 alone, there were 68 on-farm fatalities. This was an increase from the 63 fatalities recorded in the previous year. Among farm-related deaths in 2017, nine involved a child aged under 15 years. In addition to this, 179 non-fatal farm injuries were recorded.
In 2017, tractors and quad bikes were the leading causes of on-farm fatalities. Hopefully, design improvements to tractors and quads will help lower fatalities associated with them. The ACCC’s proposal to make crush protection devices (CPDs) a mandatory addition to all quad bikes is a positive step towards improving quad-bike safety. Constant design improvements to farm machinery and equipment also provides optimism for the future.
Pleasingly, the need to improve the safety and reliability of farm machinery and equipment has been recognised by companies which manufacture these products. Kubota Australia has expressed its commitment to providing quality, reliable, and safe equipment to Australian farmers. It boasts an extensive risk assessment process designed to identify any potential hazards, aiming to make a farmer’s job safer and easier.
While improved safety standards in machinery and equipment can make farms safer places, Kubota acknowledges the role farmers continue to play in ensuring their own safety when operating machinery and equipment. This Farm Safety week, Kubota encourages all farmers to be reminded of best practice in avoiding accidents when operating equipment and machinery. Their tips include:
- Ensure everyone is familiar with the machinery that they are operating, and comply with the instructions provided with the equipment.
- Ensure you are wearing appropriate protective clothing when using farming equipment. Thongs, loose hair, and baggy clothing can lead to serious injuries.
- Fatigue can be very dangerous when operating machinery, so it’s important to take breaks from work when you need to.
- It crucial that you stay alert when using farm equipment, to ensure that you are aware of your surroundings.
Ensure you maintain your machine in accordance with the manufacturers guidelines and recommendations This includes keeping all guards, shields and access doors in place when operating equipment.
You should always keep children away from farm areas while using equipment. While there is plenty to explore on a farm, there are lots of dangers too.
Farmsafe Australia similarly urges farmers to observe safety procedures at all times when operating farm machinery and vehicles. For the tech-savvy amongst us, Farmsafe Australia offers a free, web-based induction tool that can be used with all smartphones, as well as free Farm Safety Plans that can be accessed through the Farmsafe website or Agrifutures Australia.
Further information can be found at: www.farmsafe.org.au or by contacting farmsafe Australia on (02) 6269 5622 or your state Farmsafe group.