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Agriculture

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 identifies Agriculture as a priority industry group.
Agriculture is a hazardous industry. Those who work on the land may be exposed to potentially dangerous machinery, vehicles, chemicals, livestock, working at heights or in confined spaces. Land workers are exposed to the extremes of weather, noise and dust. Agricultural work can be physically demanding, seasonally intensive, and sometimes the repetitive nature of tasks can cause a range of health problems. Over the eight years from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 356 workers died while working on a farming property1. Of these tractors were involved in 93, aircraft in 48, light vehicles in 28 and quad bikes in 27 fatalities. Being bitten or hit by an animal accounted for 18 fatalities, while falling from a horse 11 fatalities. In 2009-10, approximately 4600 non-fatal injury claims were received Australia wide where a quarter of claims were attributed to body stressing while falls accounted for 21 per cent of claims. Overall 22 per cent of claims were due to working with animals, 19 per cent from working with mobile plant and transport and 18 per cent from working with non-powered tools and equipment.
In Australia around 306,000 people work in the Agricultural sector. This is less than 5 per cent of the working population and yet agriculture has one of the highest fatality rates of all industries accounting for 17 per cent of all worker fatalities over the eight years to 2011.

Risk

The most common causes of death or serious injury for land workers include:

  • transport or plant-related (collisions and overturns)
  • struck by object
  • falls from height
  • asphyxiation or drowning
  • contact with machinery
  • injury by an animal
  • slips, trips and falls at level.

Remedy

The agriculture industry use management systems to ensure that crops and livestock remain healthy and productive. Planning underpins control in order to assess for risk or incidents that may influence the crop or livestock. Managing work health and safety is no different—assessing risk, controlling problems that arise and learning from experience are equally important concepts when ensuring worker health and safety.

Resources

Below is a list of resources from various jurisdictions and industry groups relevant to the agriculture industry. These resources assist in the control of risks found in the agriculture industry.

Information Source What it Contains?
Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities
HWSA final report—National Agricultural Project 2013–14 [PDF]

Information about HWSA's National Agricultural Project including Comcare's role. This project aligns with the priorities of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022.

Disclaimer: If you require an accessible version of this PDF please Contact us.

Comcare
Managing hazards in the workplace Guidance for managing various risks in the workplace
Recovery and rehabilitation Return to work guidance
Quick Start Guide: workplace health and safety in agriculture This quick start guide is for managers working in agriculture and contains a WHS Management plan, Safety induction template, My Safety Rules Card and a Guide for Land workers on workplace health and safety.
SafeWork Australia
A-Z Model Codes of Practice Model codes of practice that apply for managing risks in workplaces
A-Z Guidance Material and Fact Sheets Guidance material providing information to assist with compliance
Australian Government
Safe Cattle Handling - A practical Guide Guide to safe cattle handling
WorkSafe Queensland
Forklift licensing in the rural industry Guidance material on forklift licensing
Use of helmets when operating quad bikes (ATVs) Guidance material for quad bikes
Queensland Government
Farm safety information sheet Digital information sheet with practical solutions
Farm Safety Info Sheets Information sheets on farm safety
Victorian WorkCover Authority
A Practical Safety Guide for the Horticulture Industry in the Murray Valley  
12 ways to make small businesses safer Common workplace health and safety hazards
15 minute farm safety check form Checklist for farm hazards and risks
Beef Cattle Handling: A Practical Safety Guide Information on safe cattle handling
Dairy Safety: A Practical Guide Guidance information for dairy farmers
Consultation on Health and Safety, A Handbook for Workplaces Handbook to assist workers with workplace health and safety
Falls Prevention in the Agriculture Sector Guidance on falls prevention in the agriculture sector
Fatigue management for the forest industry Guidance to address fatigue in the forest industry
Hazardous Substances Safety portal for hazardous substances
Health and Safety in Shearing Guidance for parties involved in shearing
Moving Hay Bales Safely Safety solution for moving hay bales safely
Plant Hazard Checklist Checklist is intended to help identify hazards from plant and equipment
Prevention Of Falls In The Transport Of Livestock Guidance material on preventing falls with transporting livestock
Quad Bikes - Attachments, Loads And Towing Safety solution for quad bike rollover
Quad Bikes - Operators Wearing Helmets Safety solution for reducing the risk of quad bike operator head injuries
Quad Bikes On Farms Handbook on the risks associated with quad bike operation on farms
Safe Use Of Tractors With Attachments Guidance to reduce the risk of injuries with tractors and attachments
Safety In Forest Operations (Harvesting And Haulage) Industry Standard Practical advice to prevent injury in forest operations
Tractor Power Take-off Guarding Safety solution for tractor power take-off guarding
Working Alone Advice about identifying and controlling risks associated with working alone
Quad bikes on farms Handbook for workplaces on quad bikes on farms
WorkSafe Tasmanian
Agriculture Forestry and Fishing Codes of Practice, guidance and related information
SafeWork South Australia
Bow ladder Safety How to safely use bow ladders when picking fruit
Falling Hay Bales Raises awareness of dangers associated with the storage, handling and transport of hay or silage bales.
Isolated work at rural and remote properties Suggests control measures to assist industry manage the risk
Chain Saw Safety Publication on chainsaw safety
Stockyard Safety Guidelines for farmers and stock handlers
Sheep shearing Hazard alert for risks associated with sheep shearing
Government of South Australia—Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure
Code of Practice for oversize or overmass Agricultural Vehicles Practical guidance for oversize agricultural vehicles
Code of Practice for the Transport of Large Rectangular Baled Hay Practical guidance for the transport of large rectangular baled hay
Code of Practice for Rubber Tracked Tractors Practical guidance for rubber tracked tractors
Code of Practice for the Transport of Agricultural Vehicles as Loads Practical guidance for transport of agricultural vehicles
WorkSafe Western Australia
Chemical Storage General requirements for storage facilities for hazardous substances
Guidance Note Farm Chemicals Resource material to manage risks with chemical storage.
Spraysafe Resource material for safe and effective spraying
Farm Machinery Guarding A guide to principles of farm machinery guarding
Guarding Grain Augers A safety guide to fitting guarding
Making Farm Machinery Safer Resource focuses on farm machinery injury
Tractor Rollovers Resource focusing on prevention of tractor rollovers
Tractor Safety Resource to help prevent injury on tractors
Safe Jacking of Tractors Guide for procedures for the jacking of tractors
Treating ATVs with respect Guide to avoid serious injury on ATVs
Noise on the farm resource relating to noise on the farm
Western Australian Government—Department of Agriculture
Front end Loaders and their attachments on tractors Resource for designers, manufacturers, suppliers and users of front end loader and their attachment on tractors
Quad Bike Safety Publication on quad bike safety
Quad Bikes on farms Resource for quad bikes on farms
Safety and Health in Shearing Part 1 Publication on safety in and around shearing sheds
Safety and Health in Shearing Part 2 Publication on safety in and around shearing sheds
Falls prevention in the agriculture sector Guidance notes on falls prevention
Code of Practice for the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Western Australia Practical guidance for use of chemicals
Primary Industries Standing Committee Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals Livestock at Slaughtering Establishments SCARM Report 79 Practical guidance for welfare of animal livestock
Code of Practice for Farmed Buffalo in WA Practical guidance for farmed buffalo
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Cattle 2nd edition Practical guidance for welfare of animals
Code of Practice for the transportation of cattle in WA Practical guidance for the transportation of cattle
Code of Practice for Farming Deer in Western Australia Practical guidance for farming deer
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Husbandry of Captive-Bred Emus (2nd Edition) Practical guidance for the welfare of animals
Code of Practice for Poultry in Western Australia Practical guidance for poultry
Code of Practice for Sheep in Western Australia Practical guidance for sheep
Code of Practice for the Transportation of Sheep in Western Australia Practical guidance for transportation of sheep
Exhibited Animals — Code of Practice for Exhibited Animals in Western Australia Practical guidance for exhibited animals
Code of practice for the transportation of horses in Western Australia Practical guidance for transportation of horses
National Centre for Farmer Health
Farm Safety Tools and resources for farm safety
Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety
Preventing Falls in Older Farmers Publication for preventing falls
Managing the Pressures of Farming Publication/checklists to use to identify and manage the most difficult pressures on business, family and self
Rural Noise Injury Factsheet Factsheet on rural noise injury
Farm Noise Guidance material on farm noise
Farm Health & Safety Toolkit for Rural General Practices Toolkit for rural general practices
Farmsafe Australia
Future Farmers Publication for High School students on rural health and safety
Woolshed Safety Guidance notes for the sheep and wool industry
Noise Injury Prevention Strategy for the Australian Farming Community Publication and resource on noise injury prevention
Safe Tractor Operation Guidance material on safe tractor operation
Australasian Meat Industries Employees Union
National Guidelines for H&S in the Meat industry Guideline for health and safety in the meat industry
Deakin Research Online
Reducing psychological distress and obesity in Australian Farmers by promoting physical activity Research paper Farming Fit study

1 Safe Work Australia, Work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms, March 2013

Page last updated: 05 May 2017