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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Farmers Urged to Stay Alert to Risks of Fatigue

Sheep and cropping farmer Jack Armstrong understands the paramount importance of prioritizing safety in agriculture, especially when it comes to managing fatigue risks during peak periods.

Amidst what can be deemed as high-risk times for farming operations, Jack, who operates his farm at Yalla-Y-Poora, southeast of Ararat, is advocating for crucial conversations surrounding health, safety, and fatigue management among farmers and workers.

According to WorkSafe data, March and November witness a peak in workplace fatalities within the agricultural sector, coinciding with the busy sowing and harvest seasons. Drawing from his own experiences, Jack acknowledges the perilous role fatigue can play in contributing to workplace incidents on farms.

Recalling instances where fatigue led to significant accidents, Jack emphasizes the need to learn from such incidents to prevent future mishaps. He stresses the importance of proactive measures rather than reactive responses, echoing the sentiment that prevention is better than cure.

Joining forces with WorkSafe’s poignant campaign, “It’s never you, until it is,” Jack supports the initiative’s efforts to disseminate practical safety solutions for farmers and foster discussions around safety practices.

Describing fatigue as a prevalent issue among farmers, particularly during busy periods, Jack underscores the physically demanding nature of agricultural work and the toll it takes on individuals over extended hours.

He challenges the misconception that working longer hours equates to greater productivity, cautioning against the adverse effects of burnout resulting from overexertion.

WorkSafe Inspector Dallas Braam urges farmers and farm workers to heed the signs of fatigue and prioritize self-care. Stressing the importance of sound decision-making, Braam emphasizes the ripple effects of fatigue on oneself and those working alongside.

As the farming community grapples with the tragic loss of lives due to workplace incidents, Jack and others emphasize the need for ongoing conversations and concerted efforts to mitigate risks and promote safety on farms.

WorkSafe Executive Director Narelle Beer emphasizes the role of open dialogue in dismantling the stigma surrounding health and safety in agriculture. She envisions a future where safety is ingrained in farming practices, reducing the occurrence of preventable tragedies.

Each conversation about farm safety, Beer asserts, contributes to the collective effort in safeguarding families and communities from devastating losses.

For more information on the “It’s never you, until it is” campaign and farm safety resources, visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/saferfarms.

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