Farm Fatalities a Real Problem for Australia

By Hari Yellina
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Gary Webster, a farmer in Ravensthorpe, thinks he is fortunate because three years ago, while working by himself late at night on his farm, he performed something he had never done before. He got off of his tractor at one in the morning on a chilly June night to clean the air seeder before switching to another type. His phone was in the cab, and he had left the engine running. The rotating gears caught his left hand and jammed it tightly in the mechanism as he was climbing under the seeder to remove the seed box. His right hand was drawn in as well when he attempted to free it, shredding the glove and severing two fingers.

We’ve had that specific piece of equipment for 12 years, he stated. “And even though I’ve done it countless times, I’ve never placed my hand near it while it was rotating. However, only this evening I simply said, “Yeah, I’ll do that.” Over the stump at his left wrist, he currently wears a protective sleeve. “You appear to cut corners. And I was surprised by it. I could even hear myself telling myself, “Don’t do that,” but you just keep going because you’re exhausted and sort of ignore the signals. And then you find yourself in difficulty.” He was unable to make a call for assistance with his injured right hand, but he was able to remove enough bolts from the gearbox with his left arm to wrap a rag around his crushed fingers, and then drove himself to the Ravensthorpe hospital.

More accountability is required, both on and off the farm, according to new, newly passed Work Health and Safety rules. According to Gary Webster, the business already complied with stringent road transport standards. “Main Roads and the heavy haulage certification have given us a taste of it, and we are audited annually,” he said. It is really just a paper trail. He explained that it was important to make sure your equipment was in good operating order and that all of your maintenance and management of tiredness were in order. “Therefore, you check every box and ensure that everything is completed using that. And in order to do that, you must hire an auditor. There is a tonne of documentation, “added Mr. Webster.

Mr. Kavanagh will also examine the pressures of production on farmers, noting that many of them are understaffed, pushing owners and employees to put in longer hours and take on additional responsibilities. According to Mr. Kavanagh, “The Inquiry will look at the impact of the pandemic.” He promised to consider the effects of the labour shortage and migrant labour as well. “With my investigation, I want to examine all those environmental influences and the effect they have had on the statistics.” The harsh lesson Gary Webster has learned is that putting safety first will win you half the battle. “I need to quit pretending that I’m Superman because the work is never done,” I said.

“You always push yourself to make sure you’re finishing the task, trying to maintain productivity, keep the tractor running.” “And I believe that all it takes is acknowledging that you should ease up a bit and try not to put yourself under too much pressure. Avoid giving in to outward pressure that says the crops must be planted and instead push yourself.” We simply need to approach it with a little more common sense. By the end of the year, WorkSafe hopes to have the findings and recommendations.


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