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Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

This industry includes:

  • animal farming (poultry, sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle)
  • vegetable, flower, fruit, nut and grain farming
  • aquaculture and fishing
  • forestry.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing is one of the industries identified as a national priority for prevention activities in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy (external link).

Occupations in this industry include farmers, shearers, machinery operators, labourers, produce packers, forestry workers. The majority of rural workers are in:

  • sheep, beef cattle and crop farming
  • fruit, berry and tree nut growing.

There are a lot of seasonal casual workers in this industry. For some, English may not be their first language. So you should think about the training and supervision they will need to do their job safely.

Most common hazards and injuries

Workers in this industry are likely to be injured at work due to:

  • body stressing injuries caused by hazardous manual tasks
  • slips, trips and falls
  • being hit by moving objects
  • hitting an object with part of their body.

Common hazards that workers in this industry are exposed to include:

  • quad bikes: a significant cause of fatalities and injuries in the rural industry
  • tractors: the next biggest killers on farm
  • poorly maintained machinery, or fruit picking ladders
  • chemicals: pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers
  • extreme weather conditions
  • old and poorly designed shearing sheds; and the increasing weights of cross-bred sheep (they can weight more than 100 kilos) which add to the physical effort of the work shearers do.

Children and farms

Farms are often family homes too. Sadly this means children are injured or killed on farms each year.

The major causes of child deaths and injuries on farms are:

  • drowning in dams: the number one killer of children on farms, and mostly children under the age of 5
  • quad bikes and farm vehicles
  • machinery
  • horses.

Some solutions

  • Ensure all machinery and vehicles are well maintained and operators are trained in their correct use.
  • Ensure you and your workers know how to safely use, store and handle the chemicals on your farm. Make sure you get safety data sheets for each from your suppliers and these are in a location that people can readily acccess them, as they contain emergency/first aid information.
  • If you or your workers handle animals, some solutions include making sure animals are properly restrained. Avoid working alone when loading/unloading stock. If you’re working with stock in yards or pens: make sure you can’t be trapped or crushed, have a clear escape route, make sure latches and bolts work.
  • Have a securely fenced house yard or ‘safe play’ area for children with child-resistant latches/gates.
  • Make sure you have and use personal protective equipment appropriate to the task.
  • Protect your skin from UV radiation when working outdoors.

Resources and solutions

WorkSafe Tasmania resources

Animal handling in agriculture

Diving work

Forest Safety Code

Horse and stable safety

Hot and cold environments

Industry snapshot

Migrant workers

Power lines

Q fever

Quad bike safety rebate scheme

Quad bikes

Safe Farming Tasmania

Other resources

Child safety on farms: WorkSafe Queensland (external link)

Fruit harvesting and packing: WorkCover Queensland (external link)

Health and safety in shearing: WorkSafe Victoria (external link)

Sun protection in the workplace: Cancer Council (external link)

Tractor and machinery safety: FarmSafe Australia (external link)

With this ring: Australian Story, ABC TV (external link) Story of a young rural woman injured when she became entangled in drilling machinery

Working alone on farms: WorkSafe Victoria (external link)

Updated: 5th December 2019