By Ruby Jones
Paul Daniel says farmers owe it to future generations to do more to tackle farm safety. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)
More people working in agriculture die than in the construction and mining industries combined, data has revealed.
SafeWork Australia said 43 Australians had died from accidents in agriculture, fishing and forestry industries this year, which came a close second to transport industry deaths.
Tragedy struck again in South Australia last week when a 47-year-old man was crushed by a grain silo on an Eyre Peninsula farm.
Some working in agriculture, such as Bowmans farmer Paul Daniel in the SA Mid North, are speaking out about the need to improve the safety record.
“If we are not concerned about the rate that we kill people there is something very wrong with this industry,” he said.
Many family businesses think workplace safety is not a concern for them, Grain Producers Association chairman Wade Dabinett said.
“We do have to improve our culture [as] there are a lot of members that don’t think this is necessarily industry’s space.
“But we are here to try and help everyone improve.”
Mr Daniel, a farmer for more than three decades, agreed many in the industry took too little notice of the accident and death statistics.
“We tend to want to hide the fact that someone has done something that might be seen as a bit silly, or they have done a dumb thing in the workplace,” he said.
“I don’t think we employ anybody within agriculture in Australia to specifically look at those incidents where people are killed, so the rest of us can learn from it.”
Farm worker hit by 19,000 volts
Grain farmer Pam Mitchell recalled a near tragedy when a tractor at her property touched a low-hanging powerline, which started a fire.
Pam Mitchell says a worker on her farm survived a severe electric shock from powerlines. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)
Her farm employee did not realise the danger and was hit by 19,000 volts as he grabbed a fire extinguisher.
The accident affected his heart and he ultimately lost part of his foot, but the man is now back at work.
Ms Mitchell said another farmer she knew of suffered a worse accident.
“They ended up with three employees in the paddock dead,” she said.
Powerlines are considered a grave risk, especially as farmers do more night work, and other farm dangers include the use of quad bikes on rough terrain.
Mr Dabinett said there were many risks during a farm worker’s average day.
“A farmer could be fixing the fence one minute, shearing the sheep the next. It is almost impossible to cover off all the risks, so accidents will always happen,” he said.
Mr Daniel urged more farm-led safety guidelines be developed.
“The next generation of farmers will look back and see this as a lost opportunity if we don’t have a go at it,” he said.