New South Wales’ sheep and beef cattle farming industry is the focus of a new work health and safety plan released last week by WorkCover NSW.
The Sheep and Beef Cattle Farming Industry Action Plan was launched on Wednesday (June 19) by Peter Dunphy, acting general manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division.
“Fatalities and serious injuries commonly involve mobile plant and vehicles including tractors, quad bikes and machinery, with the most common injuries being sprains and strains while handling animals, and being hit by, and falling from, animals,” said Mr Dunphy in a statement.
The plan will serve as a blueprint for strategies to reduce injuries and illnesses in workplaces and to improve the management of injuries in what is considered a high risk industry.
According to WorkCover, the incidence of claims for workers compensation for grain, sheep and beef cattle farming in 2010/11 was 37.7 per 1,000 employees.
That was higher than the average rate across all industries – 36.4 per 1,000 employees.
Similarly, the average cost of a claim in the three years to 2010/11 was higher than that of all industries combined ($30,615, compared to $8,697).
Among the factors contributing to the high rate of injury in the industry, WorkCover highlighted the labour intensive nature and outdoor setting of the work, a workforce that was both aging and marked by the presence of inexperienced new farm workers, and limited access to training opportunities because of the restrictions of distance and costs.
Mr Dunphy says that by focussing on six major safety issues, the action plan will help the many businesses in the sheep and beef cattle farming business to be safer and more productive.
“We will address these issues by building relationships with those who can influence change, designing innovative solutions that produce sustainable change, engaging farmers and farm workers to build their capability, highlighting and sharing best practice from other workplaces and targeted activities in high risk workplaces,” Mr Dunphy said.
Those issues include working with livestock, quad bike use, occupational disease, child safety on farms, and return to work and injury management.
When serious injuries occur on farms, sometimes they can leave workers permanently impaired and unable to return to work.
In these cases, it may be possible for the injured worker to access a lump sum personal disability benefit through a superannuation, life insurance or other insurance policy.