There is more than one on-farm fatality each week in Australia – a stark reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance in agriculture – according to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (AgHealth Australia) at the University of Sydney.
The latest statistics released by AgHealth Australia, based on analysis of 2014 print media reports, show that 54 people lost their lives in on-farm incidents in 2014 and another 94 were injured. The figures represent a small reduction in the number of on-farm fatalities recorded in 2013 (59), but quad-bike safety continues to be a concern.
“Quad bikes top the list for the fourth consecutive year with 12 fatalities – tragically, three involving children [under 15 years],” AgHealth Australia director Associate Professor Tony Lower says. Quad bikes were also involved in more than half the total number of non-fatal incidents reported in 2014.
“Quad manufacturers always point to rider error to avoid implications regarding the safety of their product; however, design flaws mean the margin of error for riding quads is very small,” Associate Professor Lower says. “The lack of a lateral stability standard means that quads roll too easily and without crush protection the outcomes are all too often fatal.”
AgHealth Australia encourages growers to use vehicles that are more stable and suitable for various farm tasks. “Growers who continue to use quad bikes must ensure a crush-protection device is fitted, wear a helmet and follow riding safety practices,” Associate Professor Lower says.
“It is critical that children are not allowed to ride – or be carried as passengers – on quad bikes of any size, including the smaller versions.”
Media statistics from 2014 also showed 10 tractor fatalities, five deaths involving farm utes and four deaths involving other farm machinery.
Of the seven children killed on Australian farms in 2014, in addition to the three quad bike cases, three young children drowned – two in dams, one in a cattle dip. The seventh child was killed in a forklift incident. Children also represented 10 per cent of the number of people who were seriously injured on farms.
“Drowning is the greatest on-farm risk for children under five years, followed by run-overs or falls from vehicles,” Associate Professor Lower says. “A securely fenced house yard helps to prevent unsupervised access to hazards such as dams and farm vehicles.”
The latest figures represent a 65 per cent reduction in on-farm injury deaths over the past 20 years, but Associate Professor Lower says many deaths and serious injuries can still be prevented using evidence-based solutions.
Associate Professor Tony Lower,
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