Broker calls for more conversations about reducing risks and accidents on-farm

Safety first in shearing sheds

Sheep
SAFER SHEDS: Growers and brokers can start farm safety conversations with shearing teams and other workers to reduce risks, farm accidents and fatalities around Australia.

SAFER SHEDS: Growers and brokers can start farm safety conversations with shearing teams and other workers to reduce risks, farm accidents and fatalities around Australia.

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Shearing sheds can be made safer to slash incidents of accidents and deaths.

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The average age of Australian farmers is 57, which has historically been about 12 years older than the national average for other occupations.

Some commentators declare this to be a huge concern for our agricultural industries.

Others point out that farmers have an average of 37 years of experience, and succession planning is now more openly talked about on most family farms.

At a recent Farmsafe Australia national planning day it was revealed that there are now more than 250,700 people employed in Australia's agricultural industries, which is the equivalent of 2.6 per cent of the national workforce.

But 21pc of workplace fatalities occur on farms.

And, unfortunately, 15pc of the fatalities on farms have been children aged under 15-years-old during the past decade.

It is concerning that our farmers are ageing, and our industry still accounts for far too many workplace accidents and deaths.

A 2020 systematic review by a group of Chilean researchers called "Do older workers suffer more workplace injuries" found older workers experienced higher rates of fatal injuries, and younger workers suffered higher rates of non-fatal injuries.

Recent research collated from Irish farms showed 6pc of serious farm accidents involved children, and 27pc occurred in people aged over 65-years-old.

In Australia, quad bikes, tractors and side-by-sides cause at least half of farm deaths, according to AgriFutures Australia.

Since 2001, 1548 people have lost their lives on Australia farms due to non-intentional injury.

Males accounted for 88pc of these deaths, despite women comprising 23pc of the agricultural workforce.

When many farmers gear-up for shearing, there is much focus on shedding sheep, organising shearers and classers and ensuring all equipment is oiled and ready for action.

But there is no doubt we can all do better when it comes to safety, and ensuring our workers, families, contractors and ourselves are able to go home safe every day.

Our industry has endless capacity to lead the way in reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities on-farm and, in particular, in the shearing shed.

There have been many calls for overhead shafts to be outlawed, along with older electric shearing plants that don't have safety switches.

We are hearing of some shearing contractors refusing to work in sheds that have unsafe or antiquated gear.

In Tasmania, we are fortunate to have people from Safe Farming Tasmania who visit sheds and provide advice about best safety practice.

They ensure employers are aware of their duty-of-care obligations, and work through checklists to enable compliance with global best practice standards.

We can help to prevent incidents by ensuring all shed hands have received adequate training; tripping hazards are minimised; all machinery is fitted with appropriate guards; and acceptable lighting and ventilation is installed in sheds.

Let's all take a moment to reflect on how we can start farm safety conversations with our teams to minimise risks and reduce the number of farm accidents and fatalities around Australia.

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