Agricultural businesses can improve profits and increase the wellbeing of workers by implementing a safety-first culture, new research has revealed.
Farming is one of the country’s most hazardous industries, with Safe Work Australia statistics showing there have already been 19 deaths in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector this year.
Comprehensive farm insurance can protect businesses from the financial impact of workplace accidents. Nevertheless, the Primary Industries Health and Safety Partnership (PIHSP) has urged agricultural organisations to prioritise working practices that put the lives of employees first.
PIHSP Advisory Committee Chairman Gordon Gregory said research his organisation commissioned has shown the negative impact poor safety has on productivity. He claimed approximately 182,559 working weeks were lost across the sugar, mixed farming, cotton and grain industries in the four-year period leading to 2011-12.
“Focusing on practical steps that farmers can take to improve safety will not only help minimise the number of further tragic deaths and injuries, but lead to better productivity and improved returns for the farm business,” he said.
“The development of a ‘safety culture’ – where safety is a fully integrated part of the farm business – pays off, and not just by reducing incidents on-farm and minimising working time lost.”
Furthermore, according to Mr Gregory, a number of surveys have indicated that safety-first methods have a positive effect on communication links between the workforce and management. A healthy working environment also reduces the amount of time spent on paperwork to see whether staff are following basic safety procedures.
“Developing a culture where safe work practices are deeply embedded is critical to the future of the primary industries, particularly in relation to attracting and retaining workers,” he concluded.
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