Vic eyes farms in fatality “crisis”
Farm vehicle safety will get special attention in Victoria as WorkSafe kicks off its statewide campaign to reduce deaths and injuries on farms.
Tractor safety inspections will include whether or not rollover protection has been fitted and if maintenance was done by a competent person. Its inspectors will also be on the look out for the use of helmets on quad bikes, training and supervision, and ensuring the right equipment is used for its intended purpose.
WorkSafe regularly conducts campaigns by a region, however this campaign will address what WorkSafe’s new executive director Cath Bowtell said is a “crisis” in farming communities. Seven of the state’s 12 fatalities have occurred on farms in 2010, according to WorkSafe figures.
“This is a crisis affecting a vital part of the Victorian community,” Bowtell told a Victorian Farmers Federation conference in Bendigo last week.
“If the same number of deaths were happening in any other industry, there would be an outcry,” she said.
She also warned WorkSafe would take a “tougher approach” with farms over the next year.
“For people owning, working or living on farms or operate in the agriculture sector, you have an opportunity to make a difference, to protect yourself, your family, business and clients.”
But workers from outside the farming community have also proven to be at risk in the sector. Earlier this month Mildura-based Modello Farms was fined $40,000 for failing to instruct an Indian national who was on a student visa how to operate a farming vehicle. WorkSafe had prosecuted the owner and pointed out that a worker’s inability to speak English was no excuse for failing to instruct them.