New stats point to safer farms in 2021


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New agricultural health and safety stats for 2021 have revealed a reduction in on-farm deaths for the second year running. New data shows on-farm deaths have decreased from 58 in 2020 to 46 in 2021, with tractors the leading cause of harm.

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.

“Ensuring the safety features of tractors, quad bikes and side-by-sides are actually used, could significantly reduce the number of injuries from these machines. If a seatbelt is present use it (tractors/side-by-sides), fit an operator protection device (quad bike), always wear a helmet (quad bike/ side-by-side) and never let children ride or be carried as passengers on quad bikes. It’s simple practices that help protect people and children living and working on-farm,” said Professor Fragar.

Fast facts:

  • Research has shown a year-on-year decrease in quad bike deaths from 14 to 9
  • 60% of all reported injuries were via quads, tractors or horses, with 53% of injuries occurring in Queensland
  • 60-74 year olds were the most prevalent age group of fatality (12).
  • The 2021 Non-intentional Farm Related Incidents in Australia Annual Statistics is available via the AgriFutures Australia website here.

Learn more about the Rural Safety and Health Alliance via:

The RSHA is jointly supported by AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporate, Grains Research and Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.


Download the report here Read Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia John Harvey's opinion piece here

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