Safety in the agricultural industry

On property

While only three per cent of Queenslanders work on farms, more than 30 per cent of workplace deaths happen on them. Even more tragically, most are preventable, so we simply must ensure there are better safety systems on farms. Before you or your workers start a task, stop and consider if there is a safer way to do it.

In the agriculture industry, our inspectors are targeting their enforcement and advisory activities to the high risk issues that are causing the most injuries. These include work in confined spaces, overhead powerlines, electrical equipment, hazardous chemical registers and incident reporting.

Work health and safety duties

All business owners and employers must provide a safe workplace for workers and visitors. There are a number of codes of practice relevant to the agriculture industry to help business owners meet their legal duties, including the:

  • Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004
  • Electrical Safety Code of Practice – Rural Industry 2020
  • Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Code of Practice 2

These codes provide the minimum standard required to comply with health and safety laws. Business owners can choose an alternative method to meet their duties, but this must be equal to or higher than the standard required in the code of practice.

Resources to improve safety

To keep your workers safe, you should have a safety management system on your farm which details:

  • management commitment to health and safety
  • a process to identify hazards, associated risks and appropriate controls which follows the hierarchy of risk control
  • safe work procedures outlining how to safely complete high-risk work tasks
  • training, supervision and induction
  • injury management and return to work strategies.

We have plenty of free resources to help agriculture business owners improve their safety management systems, including the Serious about farm safety guide. This guide contains information and templates to develop a simple safety management system. Visit
worksafe.qld.gov.au/agriculture to download the guide.

We also provide free one-on-one assistance to businesses through our Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) program. IPaM works with employers to prevent and manage workplace injuries through a safety management process. For more information or to sign up for IPaM, visit worksafe.qld.gov.au or email workplaceassistance@oir.qld.gov.au

Safety advocates

Our Safety Advocates have all been injured at work or lost a loved one in a workplace incident. Available to speak at your workplace, each Safety Advocate’s story gives a compelling message on the importance of work health and safety. They will start a conversation amongst your staff, clearly illustrate the personal impact of a workplace injury or death and encourage your staff to work together to better manage safety. Watch our Safety Advocate films and book a visit at worksafe.qld.gov.au/safety-advocates.

Quad bike safety – be Ride ready

Being ‘Ride ready’ means having the right experience and knowledge to prepare for what can go wrong when you’re riding a quad bike – whether it’s a hidden rock or log in long grass, a gully washed-out from a recent storm or animals behaving unexpectedly.

Here’s some of our safety tips to help you become Ride ready:

  • Select the right vehicle for the job.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Get trained.
  • Reconsider loads, attachments and passengers.
  • Never let kids ride adult bikes.
  • Know the road rules, visit transport.qld.gov.au.

For more information on quad bike safety, visit worksafe.qld.gov.au/rideready.

Labour hire licensing

Agriculture in Queensland relies on travelling visa workers/ backpackers to complete on-farm tasks such as picking and packing fruit and vegetables. Many are employed through labour hire companies.

To protect labour hire workers from exploitation and to promote the integrity of the labour hire industry, labour hire providers must be licensed. Agriculture business owners who engage labour hire providers must only engage licensed providers. There are now over 400 licensed labour hire providers throughout Queensland providing workers to the agricultural industry.

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In the last two years, for labour hire in the agriculture industry:

  • 142 providers have had their applications refused or withdrawn for failing to provide compliance information
  • 15 providers have been issued conditional licences
  • 7 licences have been cancelled
  • 17 licences have been suspended
  • 4 providers have been prosecuted for providing labour unlicensed in Caboolture, Stanthorpe and Emerald, with fines from $60,000-$75,000
  • 1 user has been prosecuted from the Caboolture area, with a fine of $50,000.

Growers can contact the Labour Hire Licencing Unit for information or assistance in relation to labour hire providers. For more information visit worksafe.qld.gov.au/labour-hire.

More information

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Article kindly provided by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland

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  • WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY QUEENSLAND

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is responsible for improving workplace health and safety in QLD. Our goal is to help reduce the risk of workers being killed or injured on the job.
WHSQ assists businesses to comply with the work health and safety laws, investigates workplace fatalities and serious injuries, prosecutes breaches of legislation, and educates employees and employers on their legal obligations. WHSQ also provides policy advice on workers' compensation matters. Worksafe QLD

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