New farm safety campaign launched

New farm safety campaign launched

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NEW CAMPAIGN: WorkSafe Health and Safety executive director Julie Nielsen says a new campaign aims to show experience alone does not prevent workplace incidents on farms.

NEW CAMPAIGN: WorkSafe Health and Safety executive director Julie Nielsen says a new campaign aims to show experience alone does not prevent workplace incidents on farms.

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VFF backs launch of a new WorkSafe agricultural campaign.

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WorkSafe is set to launch a six-week farm safety campaign, across all forms of regional media.

The campaign's key message - "It's never you, until it is" - aims to challenge a common mindset among farmers and agriculture workers that a serious incident won't happen to them.

WorkSafe Health and Safety executive director Julie Nielsen said the campaign would show that experience alone does not prevent workplace incidents on farms.

"Farmers know their land and machinery like the back of their hand, but that doesn't make you bulletproof," Ms Nielsen said.

"It might be easy to think that a tragic incident will never happen on your farm, but if safety is not your top priority then the chances are high that it will.

"Farmers owe it to themselves, their families, their workers and communities to always keep safety front of mind and make it a permanent part of their daily life."

The campaign is part of a wider push to shift attitudes around farm safety under WorkSafe's Agriculture Strategy 2020-23.

Ms Nielsen said the WorkSafe strategy set out how the organisation would engage with industry to drive change and encourage a mindset that farm workplace deaths and injuries were preventable, not inevitable.

It focused on high-risk hazards such as machinery, livestock and chemicals and would collaborate with industry to improve the safety of vulnerable employees, including migrant and seasonal workers.

The strategic approach also included collaborative education programs, new guidance and targeted compliance and enforcement activities.

Agriculture remains one of the state's most dangerous industries, with 24 people dying as a result of on-farm workplace incidents in the past three years.

Last year alone, 424 people working in agriculture, or about eight people every week, were injured seriously enough to make a worker's compensation claim.

It follows the state government launch of the new $3 million Farm Safety Rebate Scheme.

A rebate of up to $5000 per farm for infrastructure and equipment, to address health and safety risks on farms, will be provided under the scheme.

The Victorian Farmers Federation has backed the launch of the 'It's never you, until it is' campaign.

VFF chief executive Jane Lovell said although the ads were graphic and emotionally confronting, they were designed to challenge any complacency around safety.

"When watching these advertisements, we all need to think not just about our own safety, but also our employees and our families and the impacts on them if something goes wrong," Ms Lovell said.

"Employers have an important role to lead by example.

"The headline 'It's never you, until it is' is the flip side of old fallacy 'It won't happen to me."

She said the VFF wanted farmers to consider whether poor safety practices were commonplace on their properties, and to take action.

For example, the advertisements also feature some common practices such as having seatbelts already buckled in behind the driver and passenger when using a side-by-side, which have been a feature in a number of serious farm-related accidents.

"If the seatbelt is already buckled up before a worker even gets on the side by side, that reflects a poor entrenched safety practice" Ms Lovell said.

The VFF encouraged farmers to take the time to engage with their employees about the advertisements in the days and weeks following.

The VFF Safety Team stood ready to assist farmers with the free farm safety audits and OHS consultancies which are available to all Victorian farmers courtesy of the 'Making our Farms Safer' Project.

In addition to supporting the industry by highlighting commonplace farm safety hazards and educating employers on their OHS duties in the monthly 'Making our Farms Safer' newsletter, the Farm Safety Team would be writing write articles, which aimed to influence the safety culture and mindset of the industry.

To arrange a free safety consultancy contact the VFF Safety Team on 1300 882 833 or visit the VFF website at vff.org.au/project/making-our-farms-safer/

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