No matter the industry, dangers in the workplace are always going to exist, especially those where insufficient WHS measures are in place. Even so, it's true that some sectors pose a greater risk than others, and agriculture is near the top of the danger tree, according to a new report published by Safe Work Australia.

Titled 'Work Health and Safety in the Agricultural Industry', the report lends an in-depth insight into injuries, fatalities and workers' compensation across the sector, with several worrying trends indicating that stricter WHS procedures need to be put into place to reverse some of the alarming statistics.

Farming figures

It's perhaps of little surprise that fatality rates in this industry are markedly higher than those recorded across other sectors, what with working at heights, heavy machinery, and uncertain terrain all contributing to the risk factor. Even so, there is some encouraging news – deaths are dwindling when examined over the long term, falling by almost a quarter (24 per cent) since 2003.

Fatality rates in this industry are markedly higher than those recorded across other sectors.

Additionally, the report also reveals that approximately three-quarters of deaths in the agriculture industry (76 per cent) involved vehicles, and around a third (32 per cent) of those who succumbed to fatal injuries were 65 years of age or older.

Such statistics may make for grim reading, but it also shows that there is much work to be done from a WHS perspective in this sector. At AlertForce, we offer a broad range of courses that can equip you with the tools needed to help improve WHS statistics in the agriculture industry. Whether you opt to study for the flagship Certificate IV in WHS, or one of our short courses such as fatigue management, each will lend you a greater insight into how to help prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace, agriculture or otherwise.

A focus on farming

Already, Safe Work Australia is attempting to do something about the damning statistics coming out of the agriculture industry. This October, inspectors from the New South Wales arm of the organisation are set to visit sheep and cattle farms across the state, as part of three-year initiative to improve safety standards in NSW.

Indeed, Safe Work Australia NSW granted some $18 million in safety rebates to farms statewide, and these visits are designed to see how efforts are coming along. Some 300 farmers are set to be surveyed in an effort to gain a better understanding of important safety factors, as well as to gain a snapshot of their ideas when it comes to safety on the farm.

"The visits and surveys are part of our efforts to develop sustainable improvements to safety, injury management, return to work and workers compensation so that rural workplaces are safer and more productive," said SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy.

Heavy, powerful machinery is used on a constant basis in the agricultural industry.Heavy, powerful machinery is used on a constant basis in the agricultural industry.

"Farmers and farm workers have proven that they are well placed to develop work health and safety solutions and we want to learn how the project has helped them, as well as connect them with other products and services that can help them improve safety."

Why the stronger focus on New South Wales? Well, the agricultural industry remains one of NSW's riskiest sectors, with over 1,500 injuries recorded in the three years leading up to July 2010, costing some $41 million in compensation.

It just goes to show how much work there is still to do with regards to WHS not just in NSW, but the country over. Trained, qualified health and safety professionals will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future, so get in touch with AlertForce today to help further your WHS career.