Nearly 40 farmers died from work-related accidents in Australia last year. The number has been decreasing but even one is still too many.
We asked TAFE NSW Agriculture head teacher, and farming expert, Robert Harris for his insight. These are his top tips for staying safe while working on the land.
“Both in the class and on the farm, the most important topic discussed is workplace safety. Within every course, and every unit, we talk about workplace safety,” says Rob.
Make safety part of the conversation every day. Don’t be afraid to raise concerns and make sug=gestions. Safety is everybody’s business. So, speak up.
Rob says that “farming and agriculture in general, is a risky business. There are so many variables from one farm to the next.”
Technology moves fast in every industry and agriculture is no exception. Advances mean bigger and more powerful machines. With those come greater safety risks. So, when you are doing something, make sure you are using the equipment properly, including all the safety features. And make sure you pay attention to what you are doing. No careless mistakes.
“We consider all our staff AND our students, as family. And with family, comes duty of care,” says Rob.
Safe work practices aren’t only about looking after yourself. It is just as important to look out for your colleagues as well. If you see someone putting themselves at risk – say something.
“Work health and safety is not just about physical safety. Mental health and safety is just as important. The mental stress of drought, financial difficulties, family loss (often due to farm accidents), can be just as devastating,” Rob warns. Farming has a unique set of pressures and isolation is a big one.
Talking about safety means talking about mental health as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. And, you don’t have to be a trained psychologist to ask if your colleagues are ok.
If you have been thinking about a career in agriculture, TAFE NSW has a variety of courses for you to explore.