Farm safety culture pays off

Research shows that the most safety-minded organisations are also among the most profitable and that developing a safety culture on-farm pays off — not just by reducing fatalities and injuries.

Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) Advisory Committee Chairman Gordon Gregory said it was appropriate that ‘Safe Farms = Better Productivity’ was the theme for this year’s National Farm Safety Week (20-24 July).

“In 2014, there were 54 farm fatalities and this year to June 30 we have already seen 24 deaths on-farm,” he said.

“Focusing on practical steps that farmers can take to improve safety will not only help minimise the number of further tragic deaths and injuries but lead to better productivity and improved returns for the farm business.”

Gregory said an analysis of injuries in the farm sector commissioned by PIHSP showed that 182,559 working weeks were lost across the cotton, grain, mixed farming and sugar industries over a four-year period to 2011–12.

“The development of a ‘safety culture’ — where safety is a fully integrated part of the farm business — pays off, and not just by reducing incidents on-farm and minimising working time lost,” he said.

“There are several studies that show a safety culture improves the quality of communication between management and the rest of the company. It also pays by reducing time and paperwork devoted to checking whether elementary safety-related actions are carried out — what costs money is not safety, but bad safety management.

“Developing a culture where safe work practices are deeply embedded is critical to the future of the primary industries, particularly in relation to attracting and retaining workers.”

PIHSP is funded by the Research and Development Corporations for the meat processing, cotton, grains and livestock industries as well as the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

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Practical safety steps for farmers:

  • Have a safety plan in place that identifies potential hazards and take specific actions to fix these.
  • Always be on the lookout for new hazards and fix these as soon as possible once identified.
  • Set clear safety procedures for risky work.
  • Make sure everyone that works on the farm understands and uses the safety procedures you have for your farm.
  • Have an emergency plan in place in case there are any incidents.


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