Friday 18 October 2013

Don’t leave safety behind at harvest

As the busy harvest season draws closer, farmers and grain growers are being urged to make safety the most important part of their planning, WorkSafe Health and Safety General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger said today.

“As the warmer months are fast approaching, the hay season is about to get under way and farmers are getting busier and preparing for the season ahead,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“But we know from past experience that it only takes a moment for a rushed decision to turn into a tragic one.”

Ms Sturzenegger said three recent tragic farm deaths since June were a sad reminder that farming was a high-risk occupation.

“We want everyone to put safety at the front of their mind, reassess their systems of work and, if there’s a safety risk, make changes,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

“Only use the machine for what it’s intended for, tell your loved ones where you’ll be if you’re working alone, carry a phone, ensure vehicles are properly maintained and wear appropriate safety gear for the task at hand.”

Ms Sturzenegger said the message to all Victorians was a simple one, “Don’t take shortcuts with safety.”

“Since June, three members of Victoria’s farming community left home at the start of their day and never came back.

“Nobody – workers, family, friends or the wider community – should have to suffer the trauma of a workplace fatality.”

Ms Sturzenegger said nine of the 18 workplace fatalities this year had occurred in regional Victoria and urged every worker to make safety a priority.

“Don’t be the next workplace fatality. Identify and control the risk before it’s too late.”

Next week (21-31 October) is Work Safe Week and there are more than 100 seminars across 13 different locations around the state to keep Victorians safe at work.

To register, visit

Below are some safety tips for staying safe during the harvest season and more information can be found at

WorkSafe Victoria's safety tips for surviving the harvest season

  • Ensure plant is maintained and guards in place, particularly brakes, hydraulics, steering, (poorly inflated tyres can contribute to rollover).
  • Understand the limitations of the machinery and vehicles you’re using. Don’t overload them and use the right machine for the job.
  • If something is blocked or broken, plan the repair job – shut all machinery down, remove all sources of energy before attempting to clear any blockages, and reinstate all guards before resuming work.
  • Be aware of where power lines are and height of machinery – plan your route.
  • Induct contractors who will work on the property and consult them about farm hazards (access/egress and no go zones).
  • Only allow trained and competent operators to use plant.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be working and when you’re due back, and have an emergency communications plan.
  • Keep a phone or other means of communication on you so help can be called if necessary.
  • Keep children away from work sites and machinery in operation – particularly during loading and unloading operations.
  • Harvesting often requires long hours including early starts and/or late finishes so be aware of fatigue, take regular rest breaks, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and eat nourishing food.

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso: 0478 305 640, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Zho-E Low: 03 9641 1457, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.