Safety Farmer

by Fargy

Farming is a dangerous act. Farms are typically the most dangerous work places. Why is this so and how can we make it not so?

The family farm can be be extremely dangerous. In most cases the only way a work place could be more dangerous would be to have it in a war zone.

There were 212 people killed at work last year, according to figures compiled by Safe Work Australia, with 112 people killed on the job this year so far (2013).

In 2011 around 60 persons died from non-intentional injury on Australian farms. So we can see a rough comparison of total workplace deaths and how farmers fare.

Farmdeaths are reducing significantly, down from an average of 154 deaths per year from 1989/1992.

More information can be found here...

What tools does the farmer have to improve safety?

Information and advice are key to improving safety for any organisation.

Farmers have a very isolated job.  Many times they are alone working with heavy machinery, in difficult and isolated terrain, and doing jobs that can vary widely due to seasonal factors.

All this while dealing with the weather.

How do farmers get their information?

In many cases it would be passed down in the family.

Neighbours and other community members could help.

The farmer may belong to a farming or political organisation.

The government may have websites that provide information.

The farmer also has to communicate with all the people that make up the customers and suppliers to his or her business.  Along with contractors that come in for harvest time and other seasonal jobs.

We begin to see a pattern here.  The farmer is at the centre of a network and cluster of networks.

The farmer has to be proficient in many skills apart from farming.

Because of the multiplicity of skills and variety of work, farmers have little time to plan or organise, so the temptation is to fix things on the spot.  Without taking time to think about better systems.



A List of Hazards.

Every farm is different, but hazards common to most farms include:

  • Animals – injuries inflicted by animals can include bites, kicks, crushing, ramming, trampling, and transmission of certain infectious diseases such as giardia, salmonella, ringworm and leptosporosis.
  • Chemicals – pesticides and herbicides can cause injuries such as burns, respiratory illness or poisoning.
  • Confined spaces – such as silos, water tanks, milk vats and manure pits may contain unsafe atmospheres, which can cause poisoning or suffocation.
  • Electricity – dangers include faulty switches, cords, machinery or overhead power lines.
  • Heights – falls from ladders, rooftops, silos and windmills are a major cause of injury.
  • Machinery – hazards include tractors without roll-over protection structures (ROPS), power take-off (PTO) shafts, chainsaws, augers, motorbikes and machinery with unguarded moving parts.
  • Noise pollution – noise from livestock, machinery and guns can affect your hearing.
  • Vehicles – crashes or falls from motorbikes, two-wheel and quad bikes, tractors, utes and horses can result in major injuries.
  • Water  drowning can occur in as little as five centimetres of water. Dams, lakes, ponds, rivers, channels, tanks, drums and creeks are all hazards. Young children are particularly at risk.
  • Weather – hazards include sunburn, heat stroke, dehydration, lightning, fire and hypothermia.

A safety exercise.

One of my friends was talking about a farming problem he had, and it showed some of the difficulties farmers have.  Let's make up our own example.

First think of a farm.  Think of a location and type of farm.

Then think of a problem that farm may have.

Then use the internet to benchmark the best practice for solving this problem.


Sounds easy enough.

Here is what happened when I tried it.

Friend is a South Australian sheep farmer.

The problem was stopping sheep getting bogged in the muddy sides of dams as water evaporates.

My friend digs them out by hand, risking getting kicked, drowned and bogged himself.

Is this best practice?

It is for my friend, he doesn't have time he says, he scouts the dams out on a motorbike with his sheepdog and does the jobs as they need doing.


So I went looking on the internet.

First I looked for  "farming safety south australia", top hit was a link from Farmsafe.


Except the link for South Australia doesn't work...

I couldn't put it in this document as this system won't allow dead links to be posted, it's on the list in the first link.

Farmsafe is affiliated with a political party called the National Farmers Federation, but that doesn't mean anything to me.  Safety is apolitical.

However the link should work.  If a farmer is trying this for the first time, it may well be the last time if they hit a dead link.

From there I tried various "sheep bogged" searches.  With no luck.  I wanted to find a best practice method of retrieving sheep or preventing sheep from bogging.



Try this exercise as just described.

I'm of the opinion that the internet is not well rigged to give farmers access to best practice farming methods.

There are plenty of generic safety advice sites that detail legislation and regulation, but not heavy on specifics.  There is nothing wrong with these sites, and the people there do want to help, but greater help would be provided if it was more specific.  And two-way, so that farmers could help each other easily.

Here is one example of such a site...,+industry+and+trade/Employing+people/Work+health+and+safety/Farm+workplace+safety

And given how farmers are desperately outgunned in the information department we need to address this lack of help from the internet, which is perfectly placed to provide fast information to a farmer out by herself.





Farmer sites.

Farmers need a website that they can talk on.

That they can ask questions on, and provide their opinions on.

Safety and best operating practice are the same thing.

You want to do the same thing over and over, successfully.  Safety ensures the success part.

Safety makes money.

Information helps create the best safety.

From here I go to make a suggestion to Google that they create a much like they have a

I've made the suggestion to, please comment if you have any ideas.

If anyone finds good websites for farming information, please leave links in comments.

Thank you.



Other articles, same author.

Safety is serious, and it can easily be brushed off as boring, which poses a problem when trying to get people to think about safety.
Why is a safety match called a safety match? Why should we not play with matches? Fire is the embodiment of the dual nature of Safety/Risk.
We wear high visibility clothing to decrease our chance of accidents. Let's look a little closer.
Every group has someone that performs risk assessments more carefully and talks about safety more than others. These people become Safety Champions.
Updated: 10/21/2013, Fargy
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