23 May 2000
Two deaths a week on Aussie farms

By Boyd Champness

A DEATH occurs every three to four days because of accidents or injuries on Australian farms, according to data released by the National Farmers Federation.

Using data supplied by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, the NFF said between 200 and 600 injuries per 1000 farms required hospital attention each year.

Children were particularly vulnerable, with those under 14 accounting for 20% of farm fatalities.

The high accident rate and injury rate was also hurting farmers financially, costing up to A$1.2bn (468m) a year.

“Apart from the obvious emotional costs and pain and suffering associated with injury or death on our farms, the financial implications for farmers if theres an accident on their farms can be severe,” the NFFs Industrial Committee chairman Mr Alan Bowman told The Age newspaper.

Recent statistics from WorkCover – the Federal Government-run agency that compensates injured workers – also showed farmers and farm workers were being injured at almost 10 times the rate previously indicated by WorkCover claims data.

A continuing two-year survey in the Murray Plains region of Northern Victoria showed that farmers and farmworkers in that region alone were being injured at a rate of almost two a day.

“If these figures were repeated throughout the state, it would indicate that about 7500 farmers and farm workers are being injured every year.

This compares to less than 800 based on WorkCover claims figures,” said WorkCover Minister Mr Bob Cameron.

Farmers across the country are being urged to undertake the “Managing Farm Safety” course being run by Farmsafe.

Farmers who participate reduce their personal insurance and workers compensation premiums.