Falls prevention on farms

Falls are one of the most common causes of death and injury on farms, especially among older farmers. It is common for people to fall from horses, motorbikes, farm machinery, steps, haystacks, trucks, ladders, silos, windmills, fences, the back of utes and in livestock yards.

A bad fall can lead to long term injuries making it difficult for a person to continue farming. A permanent disability from a fall is a common reason for people being admitted to hospital and then residential care.

Farms have many potential hazards, such as ladders, silos, windmills, gates and ramps. Even from waist height, falls can cause serious injuries. There are lots of things you can do around the farm to help prevent falls:

  • Attach extra grab rails on trucks, tractors, headers, ramps and steps.
  • Use non slip tape on ladders, and non-slip matting in the workshop; replace old steps with non-slip metal mesh and a rail.
  • Avoid heights where possible, but if you have to work at height, wear a safety harness.
  • Install good lighting, especially around sheds.
  • Wear well fitted boots with non-slip soles.
  • Tidy up workshops, don’t leave clutter around.
  • Keep paths and walkways clear.
  • Keep as fit as possible as you may be less likely to fall if in good physical shape.
  • Write a checklist of potential falling hazards at your farm.

Remember, it’s much easier to prevent a fall than to recover from one.

Farm safety – falls
Falls are a leading cause of injury and death for farm workers. Common hazards include animals, motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs, or quad bikes), working at heights in silos or on tractors, harvesters, cherry pickers or windmills, uneven surfaces and uncovered wells. Older farmers are most at risk. Simple safety measures can reduce the danger.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Fast facts:

  • Falls are a major cause of injury on farms, especially for older farmers.
  • Avoid working at heights or wear an appropriate safety harness.
  • Stay physically active and maintain your muscle strength with regular exercise.
  • Install safety features like grab rails and non-slip flooring.
  • Stay on your feet and stay on your farm.

References used for this topic

More information:

Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety
Falls Injury Prevention 

Queensland Government
Slips, trips and falls prevention

Government of Western Australia
Guidance note: Falls prevention in the agricultural sector

Research & reviews:

AgriFutures Australia/Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety
Health and safety in older farmers in Australia: the facts – 2007

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Trends in injury deaths, Australia: 1999–00 to 2014–15

Monash University Accident Research Centre
Preventing farm injuries [PDF]

Safework Australia
Work-related injuries and fatalities involving falls from a height in Australia 2013