Some differences but all at risk: Improving farm safety for young people—An Australian experience


A significant portion of on-farm deaths and injuries in Australia occur among young people working on the farm. Since most Australian farms are still family owned and operated, young people are an integral part of everyday operations and the farm is a place where these young people live, work and play. This paper describes how the international Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ program, originally developed in North America, was further developed for a younger Australian audience (ages 12–19) enrolled in agricultural programs at secondary or vocational schools. In addition, we share insight on demographics, self-reported farm safety behaviours, and the most common farm tasks being performed by program participants utilising a pre-survey originally developed for program customisation. Of particular importance were the most common farming tasks reported by this group. The most common tasks performed on Australian farms included a large variety of vehicle use (farm vehicles, motorbikes, and quadbikes) and handling livestock. Females reported operating vehicles and other farm equipment at the same rates as males. Males were more likely to be working with large heavy machinery and driving trucks, while females were more likely to be working with livestock and using horses for stockwork. Both males and females reported low use of PPE and poor safety habits. In future Australian programs, it will be important to address the conspicuous use of motor vehicles, quadbikes, motorbikes and machinery at early ages, and to target gender-specific tasks to reduce risks on the farm.

Prof. Susan Alison Brumby, Cecilia Fitzgerald, Tracey Hatherell, Morna Semmens, Dr. Jacqueline Cotton, Sally Cunningham, Dr. Jenna Gibbs, David Sullivan, and Carolyn Sheridan2022Some differences but all at risk: Improving farm safety for young people—An Australian experienceFrontiers in Public Health, section Children and Health Go to page