Australian farms makeup just one in ten of the country’s workplaces yet account for a quarter of all work-related deaths.

Children up to age four and men are at the highest risk of death, and research shows 81% of deaths and injuries involve water, vehicles, or horses. Younger farmers suffer more injuries than their older peers, but when mature farmers are injured, they’re more likely to die.

What may well raise the risks is that nine out of ten farms are family-owned and operated, so they combine home and work environments. Half of all incidents happen on weekends, but farm residents were killed on any day of the week. Farmers tend to work long hours and often alone.

No wonder that farms are Australia’s most dangerous workplaces.

Know your farm risks

It’s good to know, though, farm-related accidents are preventable. Chances are every farmer is familiar with these hazards to human or animal health, property, and livelihood including:

  • Weather
  • Water
  • Vehicles and machinery
  • Animals
  • Noise pollution
  • Working in confined spaces or heights
  • Electricity
  • Chemicals and asbestos

Driving your risk-management strategy

Research shows farmers have a higher risk of psychological stress. That’s due to legal stress, uncertainty, poor access to support services, lack of control in farming, an unsustainable work ethic, social disconnection, and often poor business profitability. The Australian government’s agriculture department website offers useful information on social support, wellbeing, and financial assistance.

You’re no doubt already doing a lot to manage your risk profile, but be open to improvements. For example, is it time to review your emergency plan? Tick off your list if you’ve got a well-stocked first-aid kit, someone with senior first aid training always on the farm, and emergency phone numbers and your farm address listed in a handy spot. Map out your route to the nearest hospital emergency department. Regularly discuss your emergency plan with your family and workers.

As well, here’s how to ensure your farm is a safer workplace:

  • Inspect your farm regularly on foot for dangers
  • Check with your state or territory’s workplace health and safety organisation for a possible free consultation
  • Record near misses and injuries as prompts to improve
  • Maintain machinery and use the right safety equipment such as gloves, guards, shields, helmets, goggles, or breathing apparatus
  • Go further and fit roll-over protection and seatbelts on tractors and quad bikes
  • Lock machinery, firearms, chemicals, etc. safely away when not in use
  • Involve workers and family members in noting safety suggestions and drafting a plan to identify risks then eliminate, control, and/or minimise them
  • Explain and educate workers, family members, including children, plus visitors on your safety plan
  • Secure a safe play area for young children away from hazards, but near your homestead.

Once you have those sorted, you’ll be able to focus on the four main business risks spanning your farm’s production, market/price, financial/legal, and biosecurity issues. So, there are a lot of components to your risk profile, which is why farm management insurance could be a good fit to manage them.

Management insurance demystified

Management insurance is your option to protect your farm from a simple act, mistake, or omission of management that leads to financial loss to you or your business. Even claims against you that don’t stand a chance of winning still need to be defended, which takes you and funds away from your operations.

Typically, this insurance covers several policies:

  • Breaches of workplace health and safety regulations
  • Unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment, or other claims against your employment practices
  • Tax audit expenses (the average claim costs $20,000)
  • Employee or third-party fraud or embezzlement and financial crimes against your business
  • Your farm’s directors and officers from claims relating to their wrongful alleged acts.

Each farming operation is unique, so feel free to discuss your insurance needs with us so we can customise a policy package to suit.

Useful links:

Farm safety – risks and hazards