New rural alliance focused on safety

Rural Safety and Health Alliance kicks off

Investing in safety is investing in the farming future. Photo: AgriFutures

Investing in safety is investing in the farming future. Photo: AgriFutures


Rural Safety and Health Alliance starts with a blank slate


Sometimes you need to go back to square one when tackling something as important as farm safety, particularly when there hasn't been a significant improvement in the statistics.

While the Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA) has risen out of previous investments made by the Research and Development Corporations in farm health and safety, AgriFutures Australia senior manager business development Jennifer Medway said this time the stakeholder organisations began with a blank sheet, and looked at how they could better address farm safety in real terms.

"We looked at the statistics and nothing had changed, so we went back to the drawing board," she said.

"The new project has a refocused agenda, we have more research and development partners and we have better linkages."

AgriFutures managing director John Harvey said the number of farming-related deaths remained alarming.

"While some progress has been made in specific areas, the overall numbers are telling us that more still needs to be done," he said.

"Australia's RDCs have a renewed focus on reshaping, refocusing and regrouping to address the issue.

"The RSHA will clarify research, development and extension priorities based on risk, provide stronger accountability for funders and funding recipients to deliver a return on investment, support practical extension, and underpin clear and visible leadership across the agricultural sector."

Ms Medway said accidents relating to tractors, quad bike and horse remained the leading causes of death and injury in farming, however more work needed to be done as a priority to improve intelligence gathering as understanding and quantifying injuries and "near misses" underpinned future investments and policy recommendations.

"Our information mechanisms do not capture injuries well, we know the statistics around injuries are understated," she said.

"Working with the the Safety Institute, Safe Work and others we have been having conversations about this."

Ms Medway said there was an increasing role for technological tools in the space of workplace health and safety.

"Things like using sensors on shearers to really understand where injuries occur," she said.

"Whether it is shearers or people on tractors sowing, we might look at investing in technology like that."

Mr Harvey said the RSHA are working together to connect individuals and committed organisations to improve safety across Australia's agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries.

"I encourage people to visit the RSHA website and register to keep up to date with progress on this important issue," he said.

The RSHA is jointly supported by AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Grains Research and Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.


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