Bath shines spotlight on Farm safety

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is encouraging Gippsland primary producers to assess farm safety and their health and wellbeing during National Farm Safety Week.

“This year the theme is ‘Recipe for Averting Disaster – and growing up on a dairy farm I understand the importance of looking after personal health and safety for the farmer, their family who work on farm and valued employees”, said Ms Bath.

“Being a farmer is more than an occupation, it’s a 24 hour, seven day a week commitment, performed in all weather conditions and often alone with heavy machinery – being vigilant when it comes to safety is paramount.

“Our agriculture workers face physical and mental pressures on the job and at present the uncertainty of biosecurity risks from foot and mouth disease and varroa mite add further stress.

“It’s important to look after the physical and emotional wellbeing of our farmers by talking about risk, seasonal pressures, mental health, fatigue management, training and farm succession planning.”

National Farm Safety Week runs from 18th – 24 July 2022, and raises awareness around the complexities of farm safety.

Ms Bath said our farmers are the lifeblood of our community, the essential work they perform as primary producers keeps us clothed and fed.

“Many people don’t see the technology, innovation and hard work that occur over the farm gate – but the reality is our farmers are the vital link to maintaining food security,” said Ms Bath.

“Farmers face many high-risk situations daily through the operation of heavy machinery, handling of unpredictable animals and use chemicals – no other occupation has the same complex work health and safety challenges.

“Statistics tell us that one in six workplace accidents occur on a farm, despite employing only 3% of working Victorians.

“An overwhelming number of fatalities on farm occur with plant, machinery and vehicles.

“In the past three years, WorkSafe Victoria recorded 33 fatalities in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector.

“Any serious ‘on farm’ accident is a tragedy and affects the individual and their family – an injured farmer is not a productive farmer.”

Ms Bath said living and working in regional communities, The Nationals understand the importance of farmers and our agriculture.

“Fatigue and stress can be a contributing factor in accidents and illness for farmers so having regular check-ups with health care professionals needs to be encouraged.

“During National Farm Safety Week, I encourage all our farmers to take time to revisit farm safety and take stock of their health and wellbeing.”