WA safety experts call on farmers to review their safety standards

Farming is one of the most important and dangerous industries in Australia, according to safety experts who are calling for farmers to review and improve their safety standards.

With the introduction of tougher penalties for workplace health and safety introduced this month, Safe Farms WA Executive Officer Maree Gooch and safety and training expert Jonathan Huston are looking to shine a spotlight on the issue of farm safety.

Between 2007 and 2016 agriculture, forestry and fishing had the second-most worker fatalities of any industry accounting for nearly a quarter of all deaths, according to Safe Work Australia.

“We want to raise the issue and then work with local governments and the farming community to try and get safety training and equipment to where it needs to be,” said Training Course Experts owner Jonathan Huston.

Ms Gooch, who has been a part of the WA agricultural community for nearly 35 years agreed.

“I think any farmer who hasn’t made sure they are completely safe and compliant needs to think carefully about what they’re risking,” she said.

“You’re risking your life, your family and your livelihood.

“That’s why we want to help make sure our farms are always getting safer.”

Last year the McGowan Government increased penalties for workplace safety offences to bring WA into line with the rest of the country.

Those changes came into effect in early October.

Ms Gooch said that part of the reason farming safety standards have traditionally been below par is that industry have thought the information they needed was hard to find or they were unaware of the legislation.

“While there has possibly been a little bit of a ‘she’ll be right, mate” attitude in the past, I think these days it can be a factor of remoteness and a lack of knowing where to find the correct information and how to actually apply what is required that is leading to the safety shortfall,” she said.

“Every time there’s an accident, it is devastating to the whole community.

“I’ve seen that devastation first-hand.”

Mr Huston said that there were a few different things people in the industry could do to try and alleviate the problem.

“You can take a few hours to identify if you have any safety issues around the farm and organise to re-do training yourself if it’s been a while,” he said.