By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

Today as you read this, there is no more dangerous workplace in Australia than a farm.

Not an underground mine, an explosives factory, or even a COVID-19 emergency ward. Think about that for a minute.

More than one in five workers who died at work, worked in agriculture. We make up just 2.6% of the Australian workforce but account for 21% of workplace deaths.

Part of these sobering statistics can be explained by the nature of our work.

We work in the elements. We work with chemicals and with heavy machinery. We work at heights and in confined spaces. We work with heavy loads. We also work alone and in remote locations.

But the conditions on farms only explain so much. A great deal has to do with culture, attitudes and perceptions.

As an industry and as a society, we seemingly accept a higher level of risk and more fatalities in the production of our food than we do any other sector. And we shouldn’t.

Growcom is joining with Farmsafe Australia and other agricultural industry bodies to observe National Farm Safety Week 2021 and to raise awareness of farm safety issues and the need for a shift in culture.

In response to an open question on impacts caused by COVID-19 and labour shortages, nearly one in four of all growers in horticulture reporting to the National Lost Crop Register volunteered concerns about their own mental and physical wellbeing due to overwork.

Our industry is under a great load of stress and fatigue right now. And this is exactly when accidents happen.   

Knowing we have a safety problem, as both individual business operators and as a whole industry, is one thing. Doing something about it is another.

As part of a renewed focus on farm safety Growcom will be working here in Queensland with state agencies on a revised set of materials to be launched in the second half of 2021 to help owners and managers to better assess their risks and to respond to them before it’s too late.