Legal link aims to cut down accidents on farm

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian

A revamped brand promoting safety on farms has joined forces with a Perth legal firm to help farmers provide a safe work environment.

Safe Farms WA was launched last week with a new name, new brand and new website aimed at protecting farming families, employees and contractors.

It succeeds original group Farmsafe WA, which was founded in 1994 to help farmers comply with legislation and provide safer working environments.

About 63 people died from non-intentional injuries while working on or visiting Australian farms last year.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Although the the number represents a significant drop from the average 146 deaths per year from 1989 to 1992, Safe Farms WA project director Maree Gooch said there was more work to be done.

“We know that it’s complicated,” she said. “There are up to 18 pieces of legislation that apply to farming.

“Safe Farms WA aims to help industry do what it needs to do to work towards compliance and, most importantly, everyone go home safely every day.

“There can be large fines, the risk of losing your farm and even jail time because you weren’t aware of your responsibilities in regards to safety. The farming industry has to realise that they are leaving themselves wide open by ignoring OHS obligations.”

Safe Farms WA has also teamed up with Perth-based HopgoodGanim Lawyers to assist the agricultural industry.

Farmers can subscribe to a package which gives them a 30-minute, free consult with HopgoodGanim, which Ms Gooch said would enable them to discuss anything to do with occupational health and safety.

Speaking at the launch, farmer and HopgoodGanim law graduate Emma Scotney said the State Government’s major revamp of work and safety laws would have a significant impact on the agricultural industry.

A new Work and Health Safety Bill is set to be introduced by mid-2019, streamlining three Acts into a single one more consistent with national legislation.

“Farming businesses are often focused on mitigating risk ... the failure of, be it seasonal variations, global commodity pricing, or genetic diversification,” she said.

“The risk of farming biz in failing to comprehensively address safety on-farm cannot be overstated.”

Safe Farms WA chairman Mike Norton encouraged farmers to visit the new website.

“West Australian farmers are global leaders in innovation and production. We can also be leaders in on- farm safety,” he said.

“Our partnership with HopgoodGanim law firm and CBH are fine examples of having industry on board supporting us so that we can provide the solutions farmers need.

“We’re pleased that there is recognition for the importance of safety on farms, and we will continue to work hard and build strategic alliances with industry.”

Safe Farms WA received $20,000 from CBH to develop the website in March. To find out more, visit safefarms.net.au.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails