Safety-first culture 'important for agriculture industry'

Published 23 Jul 2015

The agriculture industry could boost profits and productivity by encouraging a safety-first mentality, according to new research.

A study commissioned by the Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) revealed that injuries in the farm sector have had a significant impact on Australia's businesses.

Specifically, the analysis showed 182,559 working weeks were lost across the grain, cotton, sugar and mixed farming industries alone in the four years up to the 2011-12 fiscal period.

Workplace accidents can cause total and permanent disabilities or fatalities, with Safe Work Australia showing 24 people died in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector last year. This year, the figure already stands at 19.

PIHSP Advisory Committee Chairman Gordon Gregory noted that this year's theme for National Farm Safety Week, which is held between July 20-24, is 'Safe Farms = Better Productivity'.

"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 explained.

"There are several studies that show a safety culture improves the quality of communication between management and the rest of the company."

According to Mr Gregory, farms can also save money by reducing the amount of effort and time devoted to basic safety checks. He added that bad safety management is what costs agriculture businesses the most money.

Staying safe on the farm

The PIHSP provided a number of tips to help farms stay on the right side of safety procedures in the workplace.

"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," Mr Gregory added.

Agricultural businesses were advised to:

  • Implement a safety plan to identify and rectify potential hazards
  • Look out for new problems and fix them as soon as possible
  • Outline clear safety protocols for particularly dangerous jobs
  • Educate and inform staff of safety procedure
  • Ensure there is an emergency plan for when accidents occur

People who suffer an injury due to an incident in the workplace may be eligible for benefits under an income protection plan or TPD claim through their superannuation or insurance policy.

If you would like to learn more, speak to a lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners for a free consultation.

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