Australian farm workers are over-represented in national work-related death and injury statistics, according to a new report by Safe Work Australia.
The report – ‘Work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms’ – was released yesterday (March 12) by the government agency.
It reveals that over an eight-year period to June 30 2011, one in six workers killed while on the job in Australia were working on farms.
Safe Work Australia chair Ann Sherry puts that figure in perspective by explaining that agricultural workers only represented 3 per cent of the national workforce.
“This is a significant number of injuries and deaths occurring within the agricultural sector,” said Ms Sherry in a statement.
The report showed that nearly a third of work-related fatalities which occurred on farms involved workers that were aged 65 years or older.
In general, older workers were hospitalised more after accidents involving contact with machinery, while younger farm workers ended up in hospital more frequently for motorbike accidents or horse-related incidents.
Other key statistics include that during the eight years of the study, 93 workers died while using a tractor. Over a third of these fatalities involved a rollover.
Similarly, 27 workers died in quad bike accidents, with 20 incidents caused by the bike rolling over.
Safe Work Australia notes that only around half of Australian farm workers are covered by workers compensation, as 46 per cent are in fact self-employed.
Of those who were covered by workers comp, nearly a quarter of all claims during the study’s period were due to injuries sustained while working with animals.
Another one-fifth of all claims were for incidents stemming from working with mobile plant and transport, with the same proportion also coming from working with non-powered tools and equipment.
“On average 44 farm workers are killed each year and another 17,400 suffer a work-related injury,” said Ms Sherry.
“While the statistics themselves are alarming, they don’t reflect the many more families, work colleagues and communities who are affected by a farm-related fatality or injury.”
The consequences of a workplace injury can be drawn out and costly. In addition to the costs of hospitalisation and medical treatment, there may also be days, weeks or months of rehabilitation needed.
During this time, an injured worker may suffer loss of income and economic hardship, so it may be a good idea to see a personal injury lawyer in Sydney to discuss your NSW compensation entitlements.
No win no fee lawyers can offer a free, no obligation consultation and will only take on your case if they are convinced you can get a compensation payout.