Farming: what are your risks?

Working on a farm has more risks than you know.

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Farms play an important role in our community, they contribute to our economy and exports, are essential to our food supply, and provide a livelihood for a number of Australians. They can be a fantastic place to bring up a family, and provide fulfilling and diverse career opportunities.

Farms also come with a unique set of risks. Each farm is different however there are many common risks associated with farms and being aware of these, particularly if you are new to farming, can help reduce the risks.

Consulting with workers for ideas on keeping risks minimised and taking regular walks around your farm to check for hazards is a good place to start. Below are some common risk areas to consider:

  • 1. Machinery

    From tractors to chainsaws and any machinery with unguarded moving parts, the risk of injury is high. Ensure you and your workers know first aid and are trained to use machinery correctly. Always maintain equipment and use appropriate safety equipment. Store dangerous machinery, including guns, in a lockable storage space with the keys kept well out of reach of children.

  • 2. Vehicles

    Crashes and falls involving quad bikes, motorbikes, utes and tractors make up a large number of all injuries on farms. Wear seatbelts or helmets even if you aren’t on the road, fit roll-over protection in tractors and drive safely.

  • 3. Chemicals

    The use of pesticides and herbicides can lead to respiratory illness, burns and poisoning so the use of safety gear when transporting or spraying chemicals is essential. Look into the use of less dangerous chemicals wherever possible. Store hazardous chemicals in a lockable storage space.

  • 4. Animals

    Infectious diseases, trampling, ramming, bites and kicks – animals can cause injury and harm to themselves, people and other animals in a number of ways. Being aware of how to handle them and to not startle them is really important, as well as keeping a close eye on their physical health.

  • 5. Weather and natural disasters

    Natural disasters can result in widespread destruction: flooding, fires and storm damage, which can impact livestock, crops and income. It is important to be as prepared as possible, both physically and financially, when this occurs. For more information on weather and natural disasters click here.

    Many farms are also reliant on rain for their survival so droughts pose a significant risk. Whether it is too much rain or not enough, it’s worth considering your insurance options, particularly around business interruption and damage. Other risks may include sunstroke, dehydration and hypothermia.

  • 6. Water

    Drownings are a major hazard on farms, particularly when it comes to children. Make sure your farm is child-safe and have a secure fenced area for them to play – away from channels, dams, lakes, tanks and any other waterways.

  • 7. Noise

    Animals, machinery and guns can all be loud so protecting your hearing through the use of safety equipment can lessen the potential hearing damage.

  • 8. Confined spaces

    Confined spaces such as water tanks, silos or milk vats may be unsafe and lead to poisoning or suffocation if not well ventilated. Make sure you, your family and workers are aware of the risks and follow safety procedures.

  • 9. Heights

    Farm work can require working at heights – whether it be up a ladder, on a rooftop, silo or windmill, falling is a risk. Take care when up high and use the proper safety equipment and ropes to stay safe.

    More information

    There are places you can find more information including your state Work Cover authority, and organisations such as Farm Safe.

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