Ross Pilkington: Farm fatalities – the last straw

Keynote presenter: Ross Pilkington 

 Organisation: WorkSafe


On average approximately one third of all work related fatalities each year in Victoria
occur on farms, this equates to 20 deaths in 2009.  Yet less than 5% of the Victorian workforce works on farms.

This disparity is a major concern to WorkSafe and is why significant resources continue to be placed into the agriculture sector in an attempt to reduce harm in the industry.  Anecdotal evidence shows that an ageing workforce, combined with use of machinery and the perception that farmers view risks and injuries as a normal part of farming are major factors in why injuries continue to occur in the agriculture industry.

It is WorkSafe’s view that safety on farms can be improved through increased Occupational Health and Safety awareness and farmers committing to control harmful factors on their properties.  This strategy further develops the industries ability and capacity to manage harm to people and allow for the implementation of systems and physical controls in their work activities.  The presentation will explore the mechanisms of Incentive, Assistance, Enforcement and Persuasion that WorkSafe use to improve safety in the broader Victorian community.  Farms, like any other industry and workplace in Victoria are required to meet the same legal standard.  This view, once accepted by the farming industry will lead to farmers taking ownership of the issues at their workplaces (family farm).

The paper also looks at the question of what is a workplace in relation to a farm – “Workplace or Home”

WorkSafe will then discuss the common myths of safety in farming and propose a “way forward” to a safety first paradigm of Zero Harm.