Last months Farm Safety Week (July 16-23) serves as a reminder that agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries to work in.
Last year, 55 farmers lost their lives on farms.
In 2022, tractors, quad bikes and side-by-sides continued to dominate as agents of fatality on farms. The central focus of Farm Safety Week 2023 is tractor and machinery safety.
Sale dairy farmer Andrew Kirkham says that complacency is dangerous.
“All machines are dangerous because we get complacent. We do the same thing day-in and day-out and they’re all dangerous if we’re not aware of what could happen,” Mr Kirkham said.
“Everything is dangerous. We’ve got animals, tools, machinery, and irrigation channels.
“I’ve had numerous cuts from the machinery. One time you’re not concentrating and it bites.”
Mr Kirkham has three teenagers who work with him on the farm. He’s trained them well to be safe and vigilant, but he is wary of the animals in particular.
“Animals are unpredictable. My daughter is out with them all the time. A cow can be about 500-600 kilograms,” he said.
“It doesn’t take much for a cow to hurt a teenage girl. They could kick or headbutt you.”
Working on a farm is a great way to switch off from technology, but Mr Kirkham now has his mobile phone with him at all times when he’s alone. After his relationship breakdown and the death of his father, he’s more likely to be on the farm on his own. His children are not always working with him.
“At the farm you’re away from society, you’re away from the world. When you’re by yourself, there’s no-one coming to look for you,” he said.
“If I get hurt by the paddock, I’ll need my phone to alert a neighbour or call someone to rescue me.”
Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath is encouraging producers to be vigilant when it comes to farm safety and their health and wellbeing.
“Farm safety is complex with many farms being both a workplace and the family home – understanding and mitigating the many risks is paramount,” Ms Bath said.
“During National Farm Safety Week, I am encouraging farmers to take stock of safety and their health and wellbeing, as safe farms and well farmers are something we can all embrace.”