The agriculture industry is an important one for the NSW economy, with the state government reporting that businesses operating in this sector contributed almost $15 billion to the state's gross domestic product in 2012.
Due to the sheer amount of activity in the industry, a range of complex, and often dangerous machinery, greatly raises the risk of personal disability claims. From quadbike accidents to the danger of coming into contact with deadly pesticides, farmers and their employees are exposed to a number of hazards on a day-to-day basis.
However, some pieces of equipment are proving to be more dangerous than others, causing regulatory bodies to urge farmers to take care over the busy summer period.
Incidents draw focus on safety
A pair of incidents that occurred in NSW over the past month confirmed the danger of augers, machines designed for drilling holes in the earth. Due to the nature of this equipment, accidents can often cause significant injury and could be factor in total permanent disability claims.
According to WorkCover NSW, two men both had limbs amputated in recent weeks due to unsafe practices regarding augers, leading the organisation to issue a warning in the hopes of reducing the chance of further incidents.
The organisation advises farmers ensure the protective guarding on these machines is sufficient to prevent these sorts of occurrences. SafeWork NSW Director of Regional and Response Operations Tony Williams said safety is paramount when using augers and is the key minimising these accidents.
"Tragically, two workers have suffered serious injuries which our initial investigations indicate could have been prevented had effective guarding been in place," he said.
"We want all farmers and farm workers to come home safely at the end of this harvest period and are urging all farms and rural workplaces to take steps to insure their grain augers have adequate guarding and safety systems so that no other workers are injured."
Both of the incidents WorkCover was reacting to involved severe limb damage which resulted in amputation, indicating just how destructive these machines can become if not operated safely.
WorkCover communicated a number of safe practices agriculture businesses can adhere to when using augers. These include adequately training employees to use this machinery, ensuring the emergency stop button is functional, place warning signs around the site and fitting the necessary safeguards.
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