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Fatalities and injuries in Australian agriculture

Between drought, isolation and hard labour, we know that Australian farmers have it tough. One topic that isn’t as widely discussed is the issue of workplace injuries and fatalities in the agriculture industry. Many people are unaware that almost every week in Australia, a farmer dies in a work-related accident.

While the agriculture workforce only makes up 2.3% of the total Australian workforce, farmers make up 23% of total workplace fatalities.

The risks for agriculture workers and farmers

The risk of workplace injury for those in the agriculture industry is much higher because of several contributing factors, including:
  • The use of heavy machinery and equipment
  • The distance from medical help
  • Many are self-employed, with less regulations on updating safety procedures, and
  • Many work with unpredictable animals and harmful chemicals.
Vehicles were involved in 71% of fatalities on farms, with majority of these fatalities were due to tractors. Tractors pose a significant danger to farmers as they are underestimated. Because of the slow speed that tractor travel, farm workers do not feel the needs to use safety precautions such as seatbelts, stopping the motor when stepping down from the tractor or not keeping an eye out on ditches or holes.

Some quick statistics

According to research published by Safe Work Australia:
  • On average, 41 workers are killed each year in the agriculture industry.
  • 85% of fatalities occur on a farms.
  • Vehicles are involved in 74% of farm fatalities.
  • 12%  of workplace injuries are due to muscular stress from handling or lifting objects.

Experience in Workers' Compensation cases

Shine Lawyers has represented many clients that worked in the agriculture industry and have been injured in a workplace accident.

One notable case involved a labourer working on farm land where there were paddocks of tall grass. While walking through the grass to his work area, a tractor driver did not see him and partially ran him over.

His injuries were severe and he was no longer able to work in the same capacity or afford to pay his hospital bills. His solicitor was able to secure financial relief for the client and his family, above the expected settlement.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 29, 2016.

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