Farm safety – startling statistics

Farm safety statistics are sobering reading and the latest report from Farmsafe on deaths and injuries on farm is no exception.  The report from 2020 has some statistics that should be taken seriously. 22% of deaths due to farm injury are caused by Quad bikes followed by tractor deaths, which accounts for 13%. Although higher in number for injury, fatalities from animal related accidents account for 8% of deaths. It is one thing to look at statistics, but the personal impact is reflected in the experience faced by our doctors in rural hospitals.
Dr Adam Coltzau, a rural doctor from St George in South-Western Queensland and member of Rural Doctors Foundation, said the “figures reflect what we see each week in the emergency department.” “Quad bikes are heavy, have a poor turning circle and if they land on you will do a lot of damage.” “Used in mustering operations, you turn quickly and hit an ant hill, or a log and they flip and end up on top of you”. Farmers have come a long way in terms of introducing safety measures on farms, the way things used to be done are a thing of the past. Modern day farmers are more likely to embrace safety to ensure they arrive home safe to their families at night. A lot of OH&S is common sense stuff – helmets and safety goggles, PTO covers, and harnesses when working at heights. But a lot of modern practice is about training, safety induction courses for farm workers and having a OH&S plan which is best practice compliant. Dr Coltzau said, “he welcomed the modern approach and was pleased that a key objective of Rural Doctors Foundation is to raise awareness of the importance of farm safety to ensure farmers, their families and workers are safe and that rural communities do not have to experience the grief of a fatality or serious accident”. “A death or serious injury is devastating to a small rural community, even more so when that death is potentially preventable with safe practice”. “It is a terrible thing to have to go into a room and speak to distressed family and friends to tell them their loved one has died. I dread that part of my job”. Dr Coltzau said “Simple things make a big difference. Personal protective equipment, a first aid kit in every vehicle, first aid and OHS training, dam fencing, child safe play areas, and wearing of helmets and seat belts prevent injury and fatalities. Think safety and get home to your loved ones every night.