Onus on farm safety

The West Australian

The launch of National Farm Safety Week across Australia has been welcomed by rural organisations WAFarmers and the Farmsafe WA Alliance.

National Farm Safety Week runs until tomorrow, aiming to raise awareness of farm safety issues across Australia.

It also aims to help farmers identify practical ways to improve safety for themselves, their workers, family and visitors.

While there has been a significant reduction in farm fatalities on the whole, WAFarmers president Dale Park said that two deaths in recent months served as a reminder to farmers not to become complacent.

"Farmers are being asked to do more and more for less and less, but they must continue to take care to prevent on-farm injuries or fatalities," he said.

According to the Farmsafe WA Alliance, it seems many people in the farming industry may be unaware there is legislation in place regarding occupational health and safety on the farm.

Worksafe has advised that it would focus its attention on the broadacre farming sector in the coming months and would conduct a series of farm audits.

As Worksafe audits can happen at any time, Farmsafe WA Alliance project director Maree Gooch said it was imperative that farmers took practical steps to improve safety and prevent incidents from occurring.

"Farmsafe WA offers private and specific on-farm checks which identify hazards and potential dangers," Mrs Gooch said.

"The results are completely confidential and can help farmers take action to ensure their operation is as safe as possible."

Farmsafe WA Alliance chairman Mike Norton said it was important to improve awareness of safer farming initiatives.

The Farmsafe WA Alliance plays an important role in providing information to the farming sector as well as helping to support its members to develop and implement healthy and sustainable farm safety management systems.

Ms Gooch said Farmsafe WA Alliance had delivered a number of workshops and seminars in the past nine months about the importance of safety on farms and understanding the legislation.

Meanwhile, Mr Norton said every farming enterprise needed a dedicated farm safety officer.

Of note is that there have been increasing numbers of women farmers taking on the role of farm safety and human resource managers in recent times.

Farmsafe WA Alliance is working with a number of industry organisations to host workshops and seminars to the farming community, as well as private on-farm safety health checks, cross-referencing to Worksafe principles.

"Most importantly, the information is private and confidential, it remains the property of the farming business and there are no ramifications," Mr Norton said.

More workshops are planned - the Farmsafe WA Alliance is working with the Narembeen Community Resource Centre to run a workshop on August 18.

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