Reputable Australian government body announces first farm safety survey

There is a lot of silence on the quadbike safety front.  An Australian industry code of practice seems overdue, the findings of a New Zealand inquiry into farm safety are yet to be finalised and released…… But the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has today announced its first survey into farm safety and it will include questions on quad bikes.

ABARE is an organisation with a strong reputation for economic  research and reporting.  The survey will, hopefully, provide a fresh perspective on this politically-charged industry sector.

According to a media release on the survey:

“ABARE will begin collecting data on occupational health and safety on farms from today including the incidence and type of farm related injuries.

Grains, dairy, cotton, sugarcane, beef, sheep, wool and horticulture farmers will be asked to provide information that will be used to help shape future programs to encourage fewer injuries on farms and healthier farm families.

The project is funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) on behalf of the Collaborative Partnership for Farming and Fishing Health and Safety. The questionnaire was developed with the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety [Aghealth] at the University of Sydney…..

The survey begins on 10 May and is expected to finish in June. Results on a state and industry level will be provided to RIRDC shortly thereafter for release later in the year.” [links added]

The combination of participants in this survey project is significant as it provides the qualities of academia, independence, economics, experience and a long-held commitment to safety improvements.

An ABARE spokesperson told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the survey will involve questions specifically on workplace safety issues such as chemicals and electrical safety but also more general issues such as children in the workplace and equipment safety.  This latter category will include questions about tractors and Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS).  Whether this includes ROPS as a quad bike rollover control measure is unclear.

The inclusion of Aghealth as a project partner is of great importance as this organisation has long experience in surveying farmers and already, according to the ABARE spokesperson, provided important perspectives on the survey structure so that respondents do not feel obliged to respond in a particular way.  Some of the questions are structured in a multiple choice format.

The release of a final report is due later in the year.  SafetyAtWorkBlog suggested to ABARE that the timetable allows for the presentation of the report to occur during or near Safe Work Australia week at the end of October 2010.

Kevin Jones

5 thoughts on “Reputable Australian government body announces first farm safety survey”

  1. Good to hear – I hope that the quad bike issue does gain attention through this exercise. I hope it will lead to a reassessment of the suitability of these death machines. The manufacturers of quad bikes have to be held accountable for the fundamental flaws in design.

    One of the main problems with farm injuries is the complete lack of reporting mechanisms for many injuries. The complicating factor is that the farm is a home, to those actively engaged in farm work and to others, family and family of employees. Injuries to visitors to farms are similarly unlikely to be reported as \’workplace\’ injuries.

    Unless the person injured or killed is an actual employee and the injury very serious, most are not reported as workplace incidents. Nevertheless national and state data consistently rate agriculture etc in the top few of high risk industry sectors. With the real data on farm related injuries, it would undoubtedly win this category every year.

  2. Let\’s hope they look closely at attitudes to safety, not just technical, mechanical and compliance issues. Getting into the heads of farmers would be extreemly useful as they do not seem to operate in the same way as others in the community.

  3. One wonders how they will measure the Back injuries that are rife in the farming community ?????????????????

  4. I beg to differ here, WorkCover SA did a Farm Safety survey in the mid\’90\’s after a 3 year old girl lost her life after retreiving her soft toy before the toy went under the back wheel of a moving tractor. From memory the accident happened around the farming area of Naracoorte.

    I would also hazard a guess that the information would still be held in WorkCover SA.

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