Poisoning can occur when a person ingests, inhales or has skin contact with household, agricultural and industrial chemicals or gas. Not only are farmers and agricultural workers at risk but also children or children visiting farms. Poisoning to stock, (sheep, cattle) and domestic pets, can also occur when exposed to waste such as broken vehicle batteries, chemical containers, and general rubbish.

Reduce the risk of accidental poisoning by:

  • Reading the instructions carefully on how to apply and the safety precautions required before using chemicals
  • Keep and maintain an up to date written register of chemical and hazardous substances on the farm
  • Wear appropriate Australian Standard levels of personal protective equipment when using chemicals and make sure areas are ventilated
  • Lock chemicals and used chemical containers in appropriate storage facilities and out of reach of children, stock and pets
  • Dispose of waste such as vehicle/truck batteries, or sump oils at local recycling station
  • Dispose of agricultural containers  through Drum muster centres
  • Used chemical or expired chemicals can go through Chem Clearor phone 1800 008 182

If you think someone has been poisoned, or has an unexplained illness, do not wait for further symptoms to develop.

Ring the National Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately.

This is a 24 hour, 7 days a week service.

Do not try to make the person vomit, it may cause more injuries. Always call triple zero (000) in an emergency.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Department of Agriculture and Food (WA)

Preventing lead poisoning in farm animals

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Vic)

Responsible use and handling of farm chemicals

Department of Primary Industries (NSW)

Lead poisoning to livestock

National Poisons Information Centre

Call 13 11 26 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Queensland Health


Clinical care:

Queensland Government

Primary clinical care manual 9th edition [PDF – Toxicology/poisoning/overdose general approach – page 224]

Research & reviews:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Childhood poisoning in Australia

World Health Organization (WHO)

Poisoning prevention and management

Fast facts:


  • Farm chemicals, solvents, cleaners and sprays can cause accidental poisoning.
  • Poisoning may occur if chemicals are spilled on the skin, sprays are inhaled or splashed in the eyes or accidentally swallowed.
  • If there’s a chance poisoning has occurred call the National Poison Information Hotline on 13 11 26
  • If possible have name of the chemical the person has been exposed to.

Last updated: 5th February, 2019