Collective farm safety strategy maps new ground for industry


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A timely cross-sector alliance to improve farm safety has launched its strategy this week as figures show primary industries have eight times the fatality rate of other Australian industries.

Timed to coincide with Farm Safety Week (22-26 July), the Rural Safety & Health Alliance’s (RSHA) Research, Development and Extension Investment Strategy leverages effort and investment from nine rural research and development corporations (RDCs) to address common safety and health challenges together. RSHA is led by independent chair, Patrick Murphy.

“The RSHA strategy includes a two-fold approach to collaboratively improve farm safety – impact, such as investing directly in safety solutions and influencing behaviour in the agricultural workplace; and capacity building, including leadership, education and communication to improve safety,” said Mr Murphy.

“Together the Alliance addresses a vital need in primary industries which represents only 2.6% of the Australian workforce but accounts for an alarming 21% of fatalities.

“With the support of the RDC management committee, RSHA is investing in research, development and extension to reduce death, injury and illness on farm and enhance health and wellbeing across all rural industries, including mental health.”

Jennifer Medway, AgriFutures Australia Senior Manager, Business Development says the RDCs have long invested in improving health and safety in Australia’s rural industries but a refocused collaborative safety and health agenda will work across industries to ensure research and extension undertaken is practical, innovative and impactful.

“Conservative estimates put the economic impacts of on-farm deaths at $140 million per year,” said Ms Medway.

“The RSHA Strategy balances it’s focus on those critical risks that are relevant to each of the individual RDCs industries, such as tractor, quad bike, utility, truck, car, motorbike accidents, needlestick injury and chemical exposure, which also have cross-sectoral relevance. Mental health, especially with current conditions, is also a top priority.”

“AgriFutures Australia and our RDC peers will continue to invest in health and safety RD&E through sector-specific initiatives and programs. The Alliance will compliment this by leveraging common research opportunities where there is cross-sectoral benefit.”

The RDCs involved in RSHA include AgriFutures Australia, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Eggs, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Grains Research and Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Wagga Wagga-based producer Lisa Anderson and AgriFuturesTM Pasture Seeds Program Chair and Regional Chair of Southern NSW Committee of The Southern Australia Livestock Research Council welcomed the strategy.

“As levy payers across industries we are pleased to see collaboration between the RDCs, particularly on such an important area as improving farm safety for our farmers, families and workers. Many of these issues are sector wide and cross industry boundaries. It makes sense to collaborate for the greatest impact ,” said Ms Anderson

Mr Murphy said projects could include technology innovation, pre- and post-farm gate supply chain issues, data and reporting, extension, communication and leadership initiatives.

Those interested in submitting a preliminary proposal are encouraged to download the RSHA Strategy and register for updates in preparation for the opening of applications.

For more information, visit

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