Australian conference calls for culture change on safety

Culture change is needed to improve health and safety in Australia’s primary industries, with far too many people still dying and being injured on farms.

Organisers of the recent Farmsafe Australia Conference said progress is being made, but much more needs to be done to improve the way those involved in primary industries think about safety.

The conference, supported by the Primary Industries Health & Safety Partnership (PIHSP) drew more than 120 participants to Launceston to discuss the big issues in terms of health and safety within the industry.

Among them was PIHSP committee member Simon Winter, who said safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“The latest figures from Farmsafe Australia show 39 people have died on farms this year alone, including five children aged 15 years and under. On top of this, hundreds of people have been injured, and there are many more ‘near misses’,” Mr Winter said.

“One of the projects the Partnership is currently funding is exploring the barriers to the adoption of safer practices, and we had an amazing workshop at the conference, presented by Professor Richard Franklin.

“The open forum enabled producers and industry representatives to outline what they deemed to be the major barriers to adopting better workplace health and safety.

“The floor was then open to these same participants to discuss how to resolve these main barriers which include cost, time and attitude.”

Mr Winter said the level of discussion and feedback across the two days from family farmers, corporate farmers and government representatives, clearly illustrates people are genuinely willing to do something about these issues.

“What’s also clear is that the word ‘safety’ does not resonate with older farmers. That’s boring to them. They want to hear how life can become ‘easier’ on farm, and it’s now up to us to better communicate that message to them,” he said.

The Partnership is funded by the Research and Development Corporations for the meat processing, cotton, grains, fisheries and livestock industries as well as the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

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