The life of your typical farmer isn’t exactly the easiest—or safest—dealing with chemicals, droughts, natural hazards, livestock and dangerous machinery on a daily basis. Add to this the fact most farmers are usually isolated, work extremely long hours and struggle to have access to basic internet or regular phone services and it’s not surprising safety isn’t a main concern (even though it should be).
As quad bike deaths on farms continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to implement some basic work health and safety protocols which could potentially save your life (or of those you love) from a serious—or fatal—accident. To stay happier, live longer and to look after yourself and your family properly (and even to claim some extra dollars for implementing safety measures) check out some of the best resources we have found across the web for farmers.
With recent studies revealing crop and sheep farmers working with pesticides are at an increased risk of depression, suicide, Parkinson’s Disease and a suite of neuropsychiatric illnesses, personal safety and mental health care for the agrochemical farmer has never been more important.
Key components of personal safety vary depending on the type of work you do on your farm. However, no matter what you do, applying basic common sense, using the proper protective equipment and ensuring you are appropriately trained to use all machinery and pesticides will limit any accidents or contamination issues.
The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety has compiled an extensive array of safety guides centred around all things farming. The topics covered include:
- protective clothing;
- pesticide protocol;
- operating equipment;
- fatigue management;
- weather advice;
- natural hazards;
- and staff management.
For safety tips to keep chemicals safe during a natural disaster, or to access information about any concerns you may have about chemical use (and if you are unsure what to do when it comes to removal), contact ChemClear.
Working with animals
An essential skill any farmer needs to have is an awareness of how best to work with (and get the most out of) his livestock. Animals can not only be a serious safety hazard to one’s own health, but can also cause destructive amounts of damage to property and neighbouring farms. Appropriate management plans should include:
- adequate fencing;
- appropriate shelter;
- emergency plans in flood or drought situations;
- and basic handling skills.
Another variable to consider when you are transporting animals to a different area, or cleaning/ trimming them for sale or general maintenance, is the overall state of health the animal is in. Some animals may be colour blind and can even suffer with hearing issues (so may become startled easily) in which case an essential understanding of their health situation is crucial before working with them.
Animals all have a temperament of their own which can lead to challenging situations. So it is essential to understand the scope of your abilities. If you have particularly difficult animals, consider outsourcing to an expert trainer or undergoing studying to help you. And, if needed, engage a veterinarian to keep across any diseases which could potentially impact you.
Agriculture Victoria has put together a brief cattle management guide which may help you get started. While you are there, make sure your agricultural user permit is up-to-date so you know how to apply chemicals properly.
Maintenance and machinery
Tractors, 4WDs, quad bikes and animals are the most common catalysts for farm fatalities. While these are all vital ingredients to a well run farm, they have the power to cause serious injuries if mixed with a tired or overworked farmer, or simply the wrong set of circumstances at the wrong time.
Farmers can access a wealth of guidelines and free information from Worksafe QLD which specifically details the various protocols for any farming business—or individual—working in agriculture.
Accidental death rates are high and preventative measures will go a long way (as this report from Rural and Remote Health highlights).
General farm safety
Farm Safe Australia has an extensive array of audio recordings and information on their site which cover a broad range of safety topics including:
- How to set up a farm for children safely
- Guarding grain
- Safe use of quads and side by side vehicles
- Farm workshop safety
- Machinery guarding (quick safety guide)
Children’s safety should be of paramount concern when it comes to life on a farm. The major focus in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria is currently on how to manage the number of quald bike accidents involving children under the age of eight. Safework NSW has compiled a detailed archive of videos and fact sheets on quad bike use in general which also includes information on the rebate for quad bike safety from the NSW government.
Safe Work Australia has also created a children’s educational DVD series on safety around a farm which covers a variety of issues parents need to consider on a day to day basis. For something specific to driving on farma, the Children’s Hospital in NSW has put together a comprehensive safety guide specifically for children riding quad bikes.
Other farm safety opportunities and incentives
Although different to the rebate offered through NSW, the Victorian government is also offering a $1,200 incentive, through their quad bike rebate scheme, to encourage farmers to take part in approved safety solutions as part of a state-wide campaign.