THE Victorian Farmers Federation will partner with WorkSafe Victoria to roll out a $300,000 initiative to improve farm safety across the state.
The partnership, which will span two years, was spurred by WorkSafe data showing 30 per cent of workplace deaths in Victoria occur on farms, despite the state’s agriculture industry employing just 3 per cent of the total workforce.
As part of the agreement, the VFF will employ a dedicated farm safety officer who will be available to assist farmers with farm safety audits, and to help ensure their businesses are OHS compliant.
“The number of deaths that occur on Victorian farms each year is just unacceptable and the industry needs to get serious about implementing a zero fatality target,” VFF president David Jochinke said.
“And the best way for us all to do this is to have a response led by people with industry experience who understand the challenges and attitudes in farming today.”
Mr Jochinke said that key to the program’s success would be an approach that manages both operational and cultural goals, including taking a proactive approach in educating farmers, their families and employees on quad bike safety.
“We need to educate workers along the agricultural supply chain in operational safety and best practices on farm,” he said.
“But farm safety isn’t just about knowing the safest workplace practices – it’s also about having a positive attitude to providing a safe work environment and treating the safety of workers as a priority.”
WorkSafe’s executive director of health and safety, Marnie Williams, said she was confident the partnership would encourage more farmers to seek advice and tackle farm safety issues head-on.
“Reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on farms remains a significant challenge for everyone involved in the agriculture sector,” Ms Williams said.
"WorkSafe will continue to promote the importance of farm safety through TV and education campaigns, promotional work at field days and on farm inspections, and this partnership will provide us with a new avenue to inspire farmers to make safety their number one priority."
The VFF will this week advertise to fill the farm safety officer position.