WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a call for workplaces to prioritise safety following the death of three workers in separate incidents all involving tractors in period of one week.
In the first incident, a 47-year-old man died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in an incident at a workplace at Myrrhee, about 50k south of Wangaratta.
In the second incident, a 53-year-old man died after he was run over by a tractor at a winery in the Yarra Valley, east of Melbourne.
It is understood the man was involved in harvesting grapes with other employees at the winery in Wandin East.
In the last incident, a 68-year-old farmer was seriously injured when he was struck by a tractor while undertaking maintenance work on at his farm at Meredith, near Geelong.
The man died later in hospital.
All of the incidents are currently under investigation.
It was alarming that three workers had died in separate incidents involving tractors within one week, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety, Marnie Williams.
“Each one of these incidents is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of these men at this difficult time,” Williams said.
“Tractors are an important farm tool but they are involved in more farm fatalities in Victoria than any other piece of equipment.
“It is critical that safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds when working with or around tractors.”
Williams said that everyone engaged in work on farms must be provided with appropriate training and instruction to ensure their safety, especially during busy times such as the current grape harvest.
“This includes all workers, whether they are full time, part time or casually employed,” she said.
Williams said making sure that on-farm equipment like tractors and other vehicles were properly maintained was just as important.
“Workplaces must review their safety processes and ensure all hazards are identified and either removed or controlled,” said Williams, who outlined five important tractor safety tips:
Ensure tractors are properly maintained e.g. Brakes and park brake working.
When performing maintenance such as checking batteries, do not jump start a tractor while at ground level to prevent rolling and ensure the hand brake is on and the tractor is out of gear.
Ensure all workers receive appropriate induction and training on the work they are to be involved in and that a register of training and induction is maintained on file.
Implement an effective communication system between tractor operators, transport contractors and ground staff.
An emergency plan is essential, ensure employees and contractors know what to do in the event of an emergency and have appropriate communication tools to alert emergency services e.g. satellite phone, emergency contacts etc.