Quad Bike Safety Standard compliance and media accuracy

It is reasonable to claim that the quad bike safety controversy has been resolved in Australia through the intervention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the imposition of a national safety standard. However, the occupational health and safety (OHS) message continues to be murkier than necessary when quad bikes are advertised in some of the agricultural media without critical safety devices.

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Farm Safety group video shows unclear position on quad bike safety

Farming is a unique industry with significant occupational health and safety (OHS) challenges; it is unique because it is a blend of rural culture, working at home often with children in the workplace, isolation from social services, self-reliance and independence. It is important for the OHS advice provided and promoted to offer the most effective health and safety advice. Many farming organisations provide this information and do it well. New Zealand’s Safer Farms appears to have good intentions but may have missed the mark with their latest video.

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New Australian film on farming life and mental health

Just a Farmer” is an extraordinary independent Australian film about an all too common occurrence on farms – suicide. The filmmakers have built a strong media profile over the last few months, emphasising the significance of a psychosocial work-related condition. But the film is much more than a film about mental health

Note: this article mentions suicide

There are two possible approaches to this film – a story about the realities of farm life and a depiction of mental ill-health. That both these overlapping approaches are satisfied by this film is a mark of a successful story and production.

The movie opens in over 100 Australian cinema screens on March 21, 2024.

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The (fatal) flaw in over-reliance on government safety funding

As I write this, I am in a rooftop bar not far from the Astor Theatre, where the new Australian film ”Just a Farmer” is premiering. I am expecting a powerful story of the struggles of a farming family and community after one of their members dies by suicide. The film will likely touch on themes like the dearth of mental health support services in rural areas, the male-dominated culture of farming in Australia and the need and desire for more occupational health and safety (OHS) support services in the country. But it is the latter struggle that is most on my mind at the moment.

National organisations that support farm safety are not guaranteed the level of funding from governments they have received previously. Although the federal budget remains in surplus, it is politically expedient to keep the government purse strings tight in this time of high-interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis. This affects support services and programs for farm safety.

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Work (re)design needs government subsidies to succeed

Last week, SafeWork New South Wales progressed the management of psychosocial hazards at work with the release of its Designing Work to Manage Psychosocial Risks guidance. This document has been a long time coming and offers significant advice on how work and people management needs to change in order to prevent psychosocial hazards. However, its implementation is likely to generate considerable opposition and confusion, or even organisational shock, if it is not able to convince employers of increased profitability and productivity from making the change.

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Suicide prevention needs more than business as usual

That suicide is related to workplace mental health pressures and illnesses is undisputed, but the more independent analysis on the topic, the more complex the causes become. Sometimes, suicide can be a conscious decision, still due to socioeconomic factors but factors that are not necessarily diagnosed or treated with mental health conditions.

[This article discusses suicide risks]

This reality complicates, and should complicate, strategies for the prevention of suicide. Recently, Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) submitted its pre-budget wishlist to the government. This submission included action on suicide and mental health but in traditional ways.

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Quad Bike safety? It’s the UK’s turn

A recent article in The Observer illustrates just how far behind Australia the United Kingdom is on requiring the installation of crush protection devices on quad bikes. It is also surprising that the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is not just relying on independent Australian research into quad bike rollovers. The vehicles are the same makes and models, the terrain is similar, and the risk is the same …??

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