Serious injury claims rise with agriculture, forestry, fishing still most dangerous industries


Serious injury claims are on the rise and agricultural industries are the most dangerous, in accordance with the most recent information from the Commonwealth work security physique.

Warning: This story accommodates photos that some readers might discover distressing.

This week, Safe Work Australia (SWA) launched statistics for Australian employees’ compensation claims within the 2019-20 monetary yr, displaying a small rise throughout most industries after 4 years of stalled progress on security.

‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ held its place because the most dangerous {industry} per hour labored and per worker for the twentieth straight yr.

“There are lots of people working very onerous to enhance security in agriculture,’ Safe Farms WA government officer Maree Gooch mentioned.

“Risk administration must be put to the forefront.”

Note: this determine consists of solely a subset of Australian industries included within the SWA report.(Source: Safe Work Australia)

Safety stalled

The SWA statistics present severe office injury claims have been extra widespread in 2019-20 than the yr earlier than on each a per-employee and per-hour foundation.

This can’t be defined by a pure improve in work — whole hours labored really declined barely, presumably as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and the rise in unemployment throughout the first half of 2020.

In agriculture, forestry and fishing, the variety of employees entitled to compensation declined simply because the incidences of great injury claims hit a four-year excessive of 18.6 per 1,000 staff.

“Certainly within the final six years [workplace safety in agriculture] has plateaued,” James Cook University Professor Richard Franklin mentioned.

“That says to me that a number of the low-hanging fruit has been addressed and there is much more work to be accomplished.”

Underestimating agriculture

West Australian farmer Colin Holmes significantly injured his hand in a shearing accident in 2018.

“The handpiece locked up, spun round, and sliced my hand open,” he mentioned.

“I’m fortunate to still have each fingers.”


After his accident, Mr Holmes changed put in electrical cut-outs on his shearing heads.

However, as an impartial farmer, his accident was not coated by office compensation or included within the statistics printed by SWA.

Professor Franklin famous that solely 60 per cent of agriculture, forestry and fishing employees have been entitled to compensation below the commonwealth scheme, the bottom of any {industry} by a 17 per cent margin.

He mentioned the numbers have been prone to significantly underestimate the prevalence of great injury in main industries.

“There is extra that we will do — there isn’t any doubt about that.”

More stress to come back

More than a yr has handed because the claims have been captured in SWA’s information.

In that point, labour shortages have significantly challenged main industries and highway transport — the sub-industry with the best charge of great accidents.

“There could also be lots of people who beforehand simply did administration serving to with the crop.

“We might not see that within the employees’ comp numbers as a result of the individuals prone to be doing extra are those that personal the property.”

2021 has additionally seen extraordinarily excessive rainfall and a bumper harvest throughout main grain-growing areas.

Loading grain into a truck.
Road transport was the sub-industry with the very best incidence of great injury, in accordance with SWA. Many farmers additionally truck their very own grain throughout harvest.(Supplied: Jason Bingham)

This provides to farmers’ workloads throughout the busy harvest interval, when extra-long workdays are the norm.

“The scarcity of expert labour might be making issues a bit more durable,” Mr Holmes mentioned.

“It places all people below extra strain and issues can begin to go unsuitable.”

Mr Holmes suggested farm employees to “take your time, ask questions and if you happen to see one thing you do not really feel comfy doing, speak to your employer.”

“Stand up for your self and if you happen to actually do not feel secure, get one other job, as a result of on the finish of the day you solely get one likelihood at life.”