Agriculture named nation's second deadliest industry

Dan Lloyd at his Mangoplah home in 2015.
Dan Lloyd at his Mangoplah home in 2015.

The dangers of the farming environment have come into sharp focus with the revelation that more farmers died at work this year than in the mining and construction industries combined. 

Data released by SafeWork Australia has the death toll at 43, second only to the transport, postal and warehousing sector. 

Though the figures suggest a huge problem, local stakeholders say more regulation is not the answer. 

NSW Farmers Wagga branch president Alan Brown said the figures are “dreadful” and a broad shift in attitude needs to take place. 

“Statistics are one thing, but these numbers are somebody’s father, daughter, uncle. The effect of a workplace death radiates out like a ripple in a pool,” he said. 

“There’s an attitude of that wont happen to me.” 

Mr Brown said the large and diverse nature of the industry makes regulation difficult, arguing for individuals to take more responsibility for safety on their farms. 

“Farmers have to become more risk-averse or the regulators will do it for us, and that’s the last thing we need.

“Employers in particular need to bring in a safety culture which applies right across the enterprise.”

Dan Lloyd, a fourth-generation Mangoplah farmer was lucky to survive an accident on his farm in October 2014. 

Running out of the back of his truck towards an emergency incident he broke his neck ducking beneath the rails. After months of rehabilitation he can now walk short distances and still runs the farm and free-range piggery. 

“They said I’d never work, I said don’t tell me what I can or cant do,” he said. 

Mr Lloyd believes there is now greater awareness, but agriculture is an inherently risky industry. 

“It’s such a diverse work space it’s so easy for things to occur, you’re dealing with livestock, they have a mind of their own, you’re dealing with so many different types of machines which just keep getting bigger,” he said. 

“As much as you can try I don’t think you can legislate any more safety.” 

The closeness of his Mangoplah community helped Mr Lloyd through his accident. 

“All farmers feel for anyone on the land who gets hurt and their families, it’s a hard thing and it very easily could have been them,” he said. 

He said education from a young age on the farm needs to instill common sense to reduce preventable accidents. 

Mr Brown said new technologies have introduced safer ways of working in many areas, the battle is simply getting farmers to adopt them. 

“There’s a means of eliminating risk completely in most areas, injectors, quad bikes, if people just wear seat belts in vehicles the risk of rollover becoming fatal is far reduced,” he said. 

“Almost every process ag uses we can find a way to minimise the risk of it- people just need to take those on board.”