Farmers have a higher risk of experiencing a serious or fatal workplace injury, have higher incidence of cardiovascular (heart) disease, some cancers, mental illness and suicide. Some of the challenges for farm men and women are that they often live and work at the same place. This means that some of the work place risks are present every day, even when not working. People can become acclimatised to these risks and accept risk-taking behaviour as part of everyday farming work and life. This may make people complacent and stop actively looking for ways to reduce risk.
From July 2003-July 2011, 356 workers died while working on a farming property. This translates as one in six workers killed during this period in Australia was working on a farm at the time of the incident. Between 2006-2009, people working on farms were at least twice as likely to sustain an injury requiring hospitalisation when compared to the general Australian workforce. In NSW from 2000 to 2005, there were 6798 people admitted to hospital as a result of an injury on a farm. These most commonly occur through slips, trips and falls, livestock handling, machinery use and farm vehicles. Older people are at increased risk of injury through falling. Quad bikes continue to be the leading cause of unintentional death and serious injury in Australia—for workers and non-workers. This pattern has remained consistent from 2010-2015.
Unfortunately, farms are amongst the most dangerous workplaces in Australia. This is compounded by our ageing farm workforce and farm workers being more likely to work alone than many other occupations. However, many farm related accidents could be prevented if proper safety procedures and safety equipment are used by all workers at all times. Organisations such as WorkCover and Farmsafe can offer valuable advice on improving health and safety at your farm.
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Last updated: 29th November, 2016