Making sustainable farming safer

Centre for Work Health and Safety

In the bid to keep their land sustainable and profitable, NSW landholders are changing the way they use their land. In their commitment to keeping all workers safe, the NSW Government is tackling emerging health and safety issues facing these workers.

Centre for Work Health and Safety (Centre) Director, Skye Buatava said the Centre has embarked on a research project to understand the emerging safety issues in farming

“We know the suicide rate among farmers is higher than the general population in NSW and we need to do all we can to protect these workers,” Ms Buatava said.

“Not just in NSW but across the world farmers are increasingly facing a range of disruptions to how they farm.

“This is critical research to ensure we are doing all we can to understand the emerging risks to farmers as technologies and trends change.”

The Centre has partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney to better understand these new risks facing landholders as they diversify their land use.

ISF Research Director, Associate Professor Brent Jacobs said global drivers like climate change, biosecurity threats and new technology are forcing NSW farmers to change the way they use land, their farm enterprise mix and their production practices.

“This project will help us understand how these changes are affecting the work health and safety of farmers to help keep our rural communities safe,” Professor Jacobs said.

The Transformation In Farm Livelihoods: Impacts on the work health and safety of farming communities report will explore the safety issues around new farming practices with over 100 NSW farming participants being consulted.

The project will then develop a suite of solutions that will keep workers safer.

The first stage of the project, a literature review, found that research into new work health and safety risk in farming was limited.

Currently, most health and safety literature is focused on the mental health impacts of drought and does not consider physical work health and safety issues.

Safework NSW is already supporting the farming community through initiatives including The A-Z of Farm Safety Booklet which provides information on the safe use of chemicals, mental health, machinery guards and vaccinations.

“Other initiatives include the recently announced overhead powerline rebate, which allows farmers to claim a rebate from Safework for purchasing overhead power line markers to help stop dangerous incidents on farms,” Ms Buatava said.

The Transformation In Farm Livelihoods literature review is available on the Centre’s website and the interventions and final report will be finalised in 2022.

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