A Murray Valley dairy farm which has seven full-time employees has deliberately moved away from using quad bikes because of their dangerous history.
Announcing the launch of it new safety kit last month, Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday said: “Safety must be first and foremost in everyone’s mind when working around a farm. We must try to ensure everyone thinks ‘safety’ before starting on a job.”
The Farm Safety Starter Kit includes a set of Quick Safety Scans that can be used to check for potential hazards and risks on the farm.
It also has a Safety System Snapshot, which will enable farmers to check their farm safety systems against the current Work Health and Safety legislation.
The Farm Safety Starter Kit will be followed by a comprehensive Farm Safety Manual, which is currently undergoing trials.
“It’s a good time to focus on how we can prevent future work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses,” Mr Halliday said.
“Unfortunately, 2016 has been a horror year for deaths on dairy farms. Five people have died already and we are only half way through the year.
“It is a time to remember those who have died from a work-related injury or illness.
"'By raising awareness of work health and safety and taking action we can help prevent further injuries and deaths.”
Australian Dairy Farmers’ acting president David Basham said to retain a highly skilled workforce a culture shift is required.
“Dairy farms are not typical workplaces. There are many potential risks and stressful situations – particularly because many farms operate with the added pressure of running a small, family business,” Mr Basham said.
“Across Australia, one in five people suffer with mental health issues.
“Farmers are no exception. Dairy farm life in some of our key dairy regions is very stressful at the moment. We need to lead the industry in prioritising health, safety and well-being – for the benefit of our people.
“It’s one thing to go through the pain and cost of injury, the lost time and productivity; it’s quite another thing to have a worker or family member die at work on the farm. No monetary compensation will ever replace that person.”
Worksafe Victoria recently reported that farms are the most dangerous work places in the state with 30% of workplace deaths in an industry that employs just three per cent of the workforce.
Research shows that it does not cost a lot of money to set up a practical farm safety system yet the economic impacts are substantial.
According to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (2015) for the 39 dairy related cases, the estimated direct economic impact was $88.6 million, with an average of $2.27 million.
Dairy Australia says it is working with state safety regulators and milk processors to provide farmers with the awareness and training they need to operate safely.
“Farm safety is a top priority issue for us,” said Mr Halliday.
“We need to work together to change mindsets and behaviour to ensure these tragedies don’t continue to haunt the dairy industry.”
The new Farm Safety Starter Kit can be downloaded or ordered at http://www.thepeopleindairy.com.au/farm-safety/safetystarterkitdocs