NSW farmers victim in 50 per cent of farm deaths

Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety director Dr Tony Lower finds the rise in farm deaths and injuries disturbing.
Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety director Dr Tony Lower finds the rise in farm deaths and injuries disturbing.

More than 50 per cent of farm related fatalities recorded this year have happened in NSW.

The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety has recorded 32 lives lost on farms across Australia. NSW represented 17 of these deaths.

During the same period last year, only five deaths were recorded in NSW.

Three of the farm deaths in Australia were children under 15. Two of these occurred in NSW. 

There were a further 101 non-fatal incidents reported in Australia for the first half of 2017.

Quad bikes were the leading cause of farm injuries and death on nationwide. 

Quad bikes injured 23 people in total and caused nine deaths. Two of the deaths were children under 15.

Centre director Dr Tony Lower noted the disturbing rise of injuries on farms, which were double the amount reported for the same period last year.

He urged farmers in the Bega Valley region to be aware of hazards on their farms.

"Quads are the major issue, especially in the dairy sector," he said. 

"Machinery and electricity are also leading concerns."

He warned of the dangers of interaction with livestock and water on properties, such as creeks and rivers. 

Dr Lower said that extra caution needed to be exercised if children are helping with farm work. 

"Agriculture, and in particular dairy farming, is almost always a family business," he said. 

"For that reason, children who help their family on farms can be exposed to risks at a much higher rate."

Having a basic safety plan in place is key, Dr Lower said. 

"Farmers need to ensure their equipment is well maintained and new staff are inducted onto the farm properly."

He said farmers can often identify risks on their property, but wait too long to address them. 

"If you see a hazard on your farm, don't put it off, don’t procrastinate, get it fixed as soon as you can."

Victoria has had 10 farm deaths so far this year. Queensland and Western Australia have two each. South Australia had one.

Dr Lower said the centre had recorded a steady decline in on-farm deaths prior to 2005, but the numbers have stayed stable since.

"That is the saddest thing, the rate isn't going down," he said. 

"The causes are generally the same as they were ten years ago, we're not dealing with new problems.

"What we need is for farmers to change their approach to these work hazards."

The centre produced a snapshot of farm death and injuries with information gathered through media monitoring conducted by the National Farm Injury Data Centre. 

The NFIDC received 20,350 articles published in the Australian print and online media relating to on farm incidents between January 1 and June 30.


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