Vital to stay safe on the farm

Safer farms an important legacy

Opinion
Farm safety always needs to be number one. Photo: Stock and Land

Farm safety always needs to be number one. Photo: Stock and Land

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National Farm Safety Week, which provides an important opportunity to raise the profile of health and safety issues facing farmers

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Farmers are a resilient bunch, well known to 'get on' with the jobs that need to be done. This attitude is one of the focus areas of National Farm Safety Week, which provides an important opportunity to raise the profile of health and safety issues facing farmers and continue the difficult conversation on why farming remains among Australia's most dangerous professions.

This year's Farm Safety Week theme looks at risk profiles across the generations. It might surprise you that farmers in the 50 and over age category, despite their relative experience, account for half of all farming fatalities.

Farming is a tough gig. Many farmers in Generation X are independent, hard-working, self-reliant, and leading the way in agricultural production. As their farming legacy takes shape, they might be putting in longer hours and working off less sleep. The idea of "clock-off" is elusive, and the get-it-done attitude can prevail.

As well as dangers with equipment and machinery use, the risks associated with fatigue, overwork and stress need to be part of the farm safety conversation. For older, more experienced farmers, role modelling safe behaviours for younger generations on and off farm is one of the most important legacies they can leave.

This week provides an opportunity to discuss common attitudes toward physical and mental health, safety and well-being in regional communities, and whether these are serving our primary producers and their families well. Acknowledging the challenges of farming is a critical first step.

The challenges are many. Regional NSW has only just escaped the grips of one of the worst droughts on record, and is now also recovering from bushfires and floods. Many in regional NSW are currently wading through the hardships of a mouse plague, pandemic and acute labour supply shortages.

It's time to take stock, and take a step back. Farm safety always needs to be number one.

  • James Jackson, NSW Farmers president

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