Agriculture is one of the most dangerous sectors to work in due to the combination of hazards including heavy plant and machinery, chemicals, noise, dust, sun and heat exposure, working with animals, alone or in remote locations. Statistics recently compiled and released by AgriFutures Australia and AgHealth showed a total of 58 on-farm deaths were reported by the media during the period 1 January to 31 December, 2020 – 16 of which were in Queensland. Quad bikes and tractors remain the leading agents of fatal injury, while males were involved in 48 of the cases and children under the age of 15 accounted for 8 cases.
Farm safety is of great importance to ensure that farmers, workers and other people on farm are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) remains committed to promoting and advancing safe workplaces to turn these statistics around. We believe there are significant benefits to implementing co-funding grant opportunities for farmers and other businesses to undertake a range of safety improvements, such as installing crush protection devices on quad bikes, upgrading switchboards, fitting powerline markers, raising the height of distribution lines, devices to boost mobile phone coverage for remote workers and training. QFF notes a similar scheme is already operating successfully in New South Wales and we continue to engage with the relevant Queensland Government Minister, writing again last month to discuss the opportunities to advance workplace health and safety in Queensland’s agricultural sector.
With an industrial manslaughter offence implemented in Queensland, the agriculture sector must think critically about safety improvement changes that can be made in the workplace. The proposed rebate would raise awareness and overall investment in farm-safety measures on Queensland farms and assist the sector to prevent further injuries. QFF calls again on the Queensland Government to take a common-sense approach to addressing risk and ensure the safety of our farmers at work. Reducing farm fatalities requires significant investment of energy, capital and human resources, but we have many opportunities and we must make the most of them.