Play time can be fatal on the farm for children

Play time can be fatal on the farm for children

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A near tragedy has prompted Mallee farmer Annette Lambert to spearhead a farm safety campaign. Pictures: WorkSafe.

A near tragedy has prompted Mallee farmer Annette Lambert to spearhead a farm safety campaign. Pictures: WorkSafe.

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Annette Lambert's young children liked to lie hammock-like in the hub of their farm tractor's large wheels.

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Annette Lambert's young children liked to lie hammock-like in the hub of their farm tractor's large wheels.

Many children do.

A member of Annette's family took her two-year-old daughter into a farm paddock on the tractor unaware of this play favourite.

When Annette found the pair, Annette's daughter was sitting in the wheel hub of the running tractor.

Moments away from a potential tragedy.

This was two decades ago, her daughter was unharmed, but the memory of this near-miss still reminds the Lamberts of the dangerous place they call both home and workplace.

Annette is a third-generation sheep and cereal farmer at Meringur in the far north-west of Victoria.

She was raised on-farm by her parents who held vastly different views on farm safety.

Annette's father held what she considers was an outdated "she'll be right" view of safety, while her mother was overly cautious and "wrapped her children in cotton wool".

On the eve of what is tipped to be the second biggest harvest in Victoria's history, the busiest and potentially the most dangerous time of the year, the Lamberts have agreed to spearhead a farm safety campaign.

That close call from 20 years ago has shaped Annette's approach to safety on-farm today, which is to be proactive and resolute, particularly when it comes to children.

Today, Annette and husband Peter, believe they have adopted an approach to safety that sits between those of her parents, taking an evidence-based approach from experts.

They taught their children from an early age about the importance of safety and the consequences which can come with irresponsible behaviour on-farm.

Like keeping away from tractor wheels.

Annette is passionate about sharing this safety message to other farmers.

Both of Annette and Peter's sons have returned home and are working on the farm, bringing with them additional safety knowledge from other workplaces, along with the skills instilled in them growing up.

When the Lamberts were looking to grow their business, friends suggested they check out the Victorian government's WorkSafe OHS Essentials program.

While they were safety conscious, they wanted to make sure they had the appropriate checks and balances to be on top of their responsibilities as employers.

Participating in the program not only gave the Lamberts the confidence they were doing everything to keep themselves, their workers and their family safe, it also helped to diversify their business.

Independent consultants from the OHS Essentials program are available free-of-charge to farmers with small to medium businesses.

The consultants provide confidential and personalised safety advice that can be put into practice every day

Farmers can find out more about the program and sign up via worksafe.vic.gov.au/ohsessentials

In the 2020-21 financial year, 1120 businesses signed up to the free OHS Essentials program but only 45 were in the agriculture sector.

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