WorkSafe Victoria has reported that of seven recent work-related fatalities, three have occurred in regional areas on farms. The most recent death was misreported as involving a quad bike.
In a media release issued on 10 May 2011, WorkSafe’s Ian Forsythe said,
“Safety’s not just about what WorkSafe does. It’s about employers, workers and the wider community taking ownership of it not just for themselves, but the wider community.
It is imperative that regional Victorians, whether they are employers, self-employed or workers to stop and think about what is ultimately important to them and what they can do to prevent more tragedies affecting them and their communities.”
Over the last 20 years WorkSafe has tried a wide variety of safety campaigns in rural farming communities. Some have involved targeted “blitzes” on specific areas or industries. Others, such as the current sponsorship of rural football, aim at raising the communities’ awareness of the importance of workplace safety. The rate of injuries and fatalities mentioned in the media release do not indicate a crisis over such a short period but when taken over a longer period, it suggests that it may be time to reassess the safety campaign strategies in a fresh or radical manner.
What type of farm vehicle was involved?
The most recent fatality involved the death of an 18-year-old female
“…farm worker [who] died on an almond plantation near Nangiloc when a four wheeled farm utility vehicle tipped on to its side as the rider was taking a turn.”
The impact of the Lani Taylor’s death is perhaps best illustrated by some article from the local newspapers. The article provides more details of the incident than does the WorkSafe media release
Several readers contacted SafetyAtWorkBlog this evening seeking confirmation that this incident involved the use of a quad bike (perhaps due to an inaccurate headline on the ABC news website). We contacted WorkSafe and were advised that the vehicle involved was definitely not a quad bike, however that only address one element of the fatality reported above.
WorkSafe has advise that the vehicle was a two-seater “mule”-type vehicle with a tray component on the rear, similar to the type pictured right. The vehicle had a 200-litre spray tank mounted on the vehicle which was around 50% full. This type of farm vehicle is often seen as a safer option to a quad bike but similar driver requirements apply, such as driver balance, experience and training. The vehicles are often fitted with a frame that can meet the suitable safety and structural standards for a rollover protective structure but this is not always the case. The frame on some two-seater vehicles are intended for other uses such as the mounting of accessories, lights and so forth.