While this is welcome news, collectively we are working towards zero deaths. Producers, industry, research agencies, technology developers, governments and machinery suppliers are to be applauded for their significant efforts in ensuring a safer on-farm work environment.
The 2021 data from AgHealth Australia’s National Farm Injury Coronial Database, is the leading measure tracking death and injury on-farm. The statistics serve as an important mechanism for industry to highlight areas where we are making a positive impact, as well as those areas we need to concentrate effort to reach the zero-death target.
Tractors are now the leading cause of death in 2021, eclipsing quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles. Quad bike deaths have decreased between 2020 and 2021 (from 14 to 9 incidents), however the number of incidents involving tractors and side-by-sides have remained alarmingly stable.
AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey, said that while it is reassuring to see a decrease in death and injury on farm, we mustn’t become complacent.
“There has been a significant amount of work that has gone into increasing safety on farm, from technology solutions to the ACCC Quad Bike Safety Standard, introduced in October 2020. These are all positive steps in ensuring the safety of the rural sector, but there is always more work to be done.
“We are certainly going in the right direction, but we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. From 2001, a staggering 1,632 people have lost their lives on farm due to non-intentional injuries,” said Mr Harvey.
The Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), which fund research through the Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA), are continuing to review the data and find ways to improve safety across our agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries.
RSHA Chair, Professor Lyn Fragar AO said the figures are a stark reminder that on-farm safety continues to be one of the biggest challenges for the agricultural sector but noted there are everyday practices we can implement to make our industry safer.