The number of fatal and serious accidents in the agricultural sector remains stubbornly high year after year and this is a cause of significant concern for our industry.

Figures released by the HSA last week reveal that the largest number of fatal workplace accidents in 2020 occurred in the agriculture industry.

Fatal accidents in this sector accounted for 38% of all fatal workplace incidents in 2020.

The pain, human suffering and economic loss caused by serious and fatal accidents is immeasurable and I would like to extend my sympathy to all farm families and communities who have lost loved ones or been affected by an accident.

Now is the time to challenge ourselves to work more safely and to stop taking risks.

Real change is needed now

While farmers, contractors and other agricultural workers’ attitudes towards health and safety are generally very positive, a change in unsafe culture and behaviour is critical if we are to achieve a reduction in farm accidents. Real change is needed now.

Farmers, farm workers, contractors and farm family members need to acknowledge that every farm is potentially a dangerous environment where a life-changing accident could occur unless significant effort is made to manage farm safety daily.

Time is a precious commodity on farms, but it is important that farmers do take the time to review working practices on their farm and examine whether any practical safety measures could be implemented to make the farm a safer place.

In order to change unsafe working behaviour, it is essential to understand why farmers take risks

This farm safety week, we urge farmers to take time to risk assess their working environment, equipment and practices, and to put control measures in place to eliminate unnecessary risks.

In order to change unsafe working behaviour, it is essential to understand why farmers take risks.

We need to look at issues that negatively affect behaviour when working, such as fatigue, time constraints, stress and the availability of safe equipment and facilities. Once issues are identified, it is important that appropriate measures are implemented to address these challenges.

Make safety a priority

Ensuring that a strong safety culture and behaviours exist within the agriculture sector is key to a sustained reduction in farm accidents.

Make safety a priority on your farm. Always remember – safety first.