FARM tragedies in saturated agricultural regions across the country involving farmers trying to retrieve machinery from bogs have seen lobby groups push to highlight the dangers in pulling equipment when they become stuck.
NSW Farmers reported there had been three confirmed fatalities involving people trying to pull machinery out of bog.
And NSW Farmers grains committee chair Justin Everitt said there were anecdotal accounts of many more unreported cases of injuries and near misses.
He said with soaked paddocks across the country bogging was likely to be a problem over the course of the summer.
An old piece of advice was key according to Mr Everitt, with prevention better than cure.
He said farmers needed to actively avoid situations where there was the high possibility of getting stuck.
He acknowledged this seemed self-obvious but said with emotions running high at harvest and harvest behind schedule farmers often tried to push their equipment a little harder.
"We know people will feel under the pump to try and recoup some of the costs of sowing this crop, and that can lead to working in conditions where you're likely to get stuck," Mr Everitt said.
"This just adds to the pressure, and I know from experience it can be frustrating, but it's really very important to be extra careful, because we've seen the disastrous consequences that can result from recovery gone wrong," he said.
If machinery does get bogged, Charles Laverty from the NSW Farmers Farm Safety Advisory Program said there were some crucial points that could help keep people safe.
Mr Laverty said in the first moments after a machine was bogged it was critical to assess the situation.
"It's always important to take a minute or two to fully assess the situation if you get stuck, because it may be different to last time," Mr Laverty said.
From there he said people needed to give their recovery equipment a look over to ensure it was still fit for purpose.
"Check the condition of the recovery equipment each and every time you use it - metal fatigue may affect anchor points, chains stretch, and cables and straps can fray," Mr Laverty said.
He said people needed to keep clear of the immediate area.
"Always keep bystanders at least two-and-a-half times the length of the recovery straps, cables, or chains away from - and to the side - of the recovery and never stand next to it," he said.
He said there were some helpful tips that were good at minimise risk and ensuring greater efficiency in getting gear out.
"When using cables, consider the use of pulleys for mechanical advantage, and when joining straps, avoid the use of steel shackles - they become projectiles if something breaks."
There are a number of potential hazards with unbogging.
According to SafeWork NSW, a 33-year-old farmer sustained fatal head injuries during the extraction of a bogged bulldozer at his neighbour's farm in June.
The man had been assisting his neighbour with the extraction when one of the two D-shackles connecting the recovery strap failed and was propelled through the glass door of the bulldozer.
Metal chains also represent a significant hazard.
Other key points to minimising risk include
- Creating an exclusion zone around the vehicle or piece of equipment during the recovery activity
- Only having the vehicle operator and those necessary in the recovery inside the exclusion zone
- Ensure an effective communication method is established between those in the rescue (voice, radio, hand signals).
- Ensure anyone within the exclusion zone is standing at 90 degrees to the axis of the tow line
- Do not stand at either end of the tow line as you are at higher risk of injury if the tow line breaks
- Only using straps and attachments that are correctly rated for the weight and type of work involved
- Use a recovery damper to reduce the force of the recoil and risk of injury if the recovery line does break
- Only using anchor points on vehicles and machinery approved by the manufacturer
- Abort the extraction of the bogged vehicle or equipment if things are not going to plan
- Choose equipment with laminated glass and external structural protection where available
Mr Everitt said there would be upcoming harvest safety workshops at Wagga Wagga on November 22 and Griffith from November 23 while Birchip Cropping Group will host a similar event on safely recovering machinery at Warracknabeal in Victoria this Friday, November 4.