South-west farmers are eight-times more likely to die on the job than any other industry, figures reveal.
A national report released by Safe Work Australia found agriculture-related deaths accounted for more than 20 per cent of workplace fatalities across five years.
Vehicles – primarily tractors and quad bikes – were highlighted as the lead cause of more than 220 deaths between 2010-14.
Three south-west farmers died in vehicle-related accidents and 49 more were injured in the past five years.
With eight ag-related fatalities of 23 workplace deaths reported in Victoria this year, WorkSafe is striving to prevent further loss.
A $1200 quad bike rebate aimed at improving farmer safety is now available and WorkSafe has launched several campaigns in an effort to promote the importance of safe farming.
Victoria’s Health and Safety executive director Marnie Williams said it was a tragedy that more farmers were likely to die at work than other workers in the state.
“The agriculture sector continues to be over represented in workplace fatality statistics,” she said.
“Machinery, tractors and quad bikes are involved in most farm fatalities every year.”
Ms Williams urged south-west farmers – often working alone – to stop, think and plan their work to make it as safe as possible – especially if they were driving a quad bike.
“(It could) make the difference between life and death,” she said. “In many cases, it is experienced farmers doing work they have done many times before that die.”
She said the goal was to have everyone home safe at the end of the day.
“We are strongly encouraging all farmers to take up the quad bike safety rebate now being offered,” Ms Williams said.
The scheme that is expected to deliver rebates to more than 5000 farmers over the next two years has already received more than 50 applications since Saturday, October 1.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) established a phone line to process applications that is now “running off the hook”, according to president Brett Hosking.
“We’d love to see that momentum keep building,” he said.
“It’s vital that farmers protect themselves, their families and their employees from the risks of using quad bikes.”
Mr Hosking said any farmer who had purchased an approved operator protective device or alternative vehicle from September 1 was now be eligible for the state-government rebate.
Visit www.bequadsafe.com.au for further information or call the VFF on 1300 945 030 to make a claim.