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Commit to taking action on farm safety

Charles Armstrong is the Chair of Farmsafe Australia and during Farm Safety Week, he is issuing all farmers a challenge to set aside one hour to take action on improving the safety on their farm.

Australian farming families have one of the best lifestyles going. Sure, it can be tough business. One with significant demands on time and finances. But overall, most farmers I know wouldn’t trade their way of life for quids.

For farm kids, having wide-open spaces to explore, waterholes to cool down in, motorbikes, and horses to master, amounts to a lifestyle that city kids can only dream of.

For farmers, sharing your vocation with your children, whether it is by working together at harvest or shearing, is a simple pleasure that few adults enjoy.

However, going hand in hand with this idyllic existence are very serious dangers.

On any given day, a farmer or farm worker will be operating a header, a tractor, a quad bike, or a wool press; they could be climbing a silo, dealing with a cantankerous bull or he or she may need to discharge a firearm.

Plus, there are the dangers that exist to children from being unsupervised especially around water, quad bikes and animals.

The demands of farm life can mean the risks on-farm are often not properly identified or addressed.  An oversight that can have very serious consequences.

A challenge to farmers - to set aside one hour to take action on improving the safety of their farm
Charles Armstrong, Chair of Farmsafe Australia and Chair of National Farmers’ Federation - Workforce Committee

During 2017 alone, to June 30, there have been 32 deaths resulting from on-farm incidents.

The leading cause of these deaths were quad bike and farm machinery incidents.

This week is Farm Safety Week and during Farm Safety Week, I am issuing a challenge. A challenge to farmers to set aside one hour to take action on improving the safety of their farm.

I am urging you, together with family and farm workers, to identify farm hazards, the risks these hazards pose and to develop ways to mitigate these risks.

You might come together first thing in the morning, over lunch or in the afternoon when the day is done.  The objective of the discussion should be to take the below steps:

  • Develop a safety plan that identifies potential hazards and taking specific actions to fix these.
  • To always be on the look-out for new hazards and fixing these as soon as possible once identified.
  • To set clear safety procedures for risky work.
  • Ensure everyone that works on the farm understands and uses the safety procedures you have for your farm.
  • To develop and communicate an emergency plan in case of any incidents.
  • As a matter of urgency, fit a crush protection device to quad bikes and always wear a helmet.

Conversation starters might include: “Name a dangerous on-farm situation” or “What steps do you take to keep safe on the farm?”

So make the pledge. During this Farm Safety Week, be proactive in safeguarding the safety of your family, your farm workers, visitors and yourself. It is too important not too.

You can find a range of helpful resources at www.farmsafe.org.au

Charles Armstrong is a farmer in Nyngan, NSW. He is also the Chair of Farmsafe Australia and the Chair of National Farmers’ Federation - Workforce Committe.

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