Urgent think tank to improve farm safety

The WA State government is planning an urgent Farm Safety Summit to improve workplace safety in the agriculture sector.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston will host the summit on Wednesday, May 27 and has invited Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan, WorkSafe commissioner Darren Kavanagh, WorkCover WA chief executive officer Chris White, WAFarmers, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, Safe Farms WA, Country Women’s Association of WA and the WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) to attend.

Mr Johnston said when comparing industries, agriculture, forestry and fishing had the highest number of workplace deaths – there were 18 in the past five financial years since 2014-15, followed by construction (15) and mining (13).

WorkSafe is still investigating another nine deaths for the 2018-19 financial year.

“The agriculture industry is 10 times more dangerous than the mining industry, so we need Western Australian farmers to address their safety culture,” Mr Johnston said.

“The high cost of workers’ compensation in the agricultural sector demonstrates their safety culture is inadequate.

“Not only are farm workers and their family subject to working on dangerous farm sites, it’s also costing the industry excessive amounts of money.

“It’s time for the farming industry to improve their culture, this will save lives and money.

“I look forward to meeting with the farming groups to discuss how we can improve safety onsite.”

Ms MacTiernan said a strong agricultural sector was absolutely critical to WA’s economy and to so many regional communities.

“We want to work with the agricultural sector to ensure farms are safe places to work and to put the industry on the best footing moving forward,” Ms MacTiernan said.

Each year the agriculture industry pays about $55 million in workers’ compensation premiums, with an average premium rate which is three times the all-industry rate and double the next highest industry (transport).

WASIA president Darren Spencer hoped the summit will provide a positive outcome and the government would be able to contribute financially to the work of the Agriculture Industry Safety Group over the past 12 months in promoting safety in the workplace and industry best practice.

Mr Spencer said there was an expectation that the industry would fund its own safety campaign, but it really needed government to provide support to achieve a better result.

Source: Farm Weekly

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