Lobby groups asked to help

28 Apr, 2004 10:00 PM

WA's peak farm bodies were urged to take a more active role in farm safety at a forum that isolated agriculture as the second-most dangerous profession in Australia.

FarmSafe WA chairman Tony Hiscock said WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association, needed to show leadership to reduce death and injury on farms.

He said smaller groups like the WA Fruit Growers Association had been more proactive.

He was disappointed no senior PGA members attended the forum.

"It didn't go unnoticed by others in the room either," he said. "There were serious doubts as to where their priorities lie."

He said attendees agreed to work together in the future to facilitate increased safety.

"There are already structures in place - yes there are still resource issues that need to be addressed, but we have to take it on ourselves as well, just as the mining industry has done," he said.

Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke asked how WorkSafe could better educate and invoke cultural change in the agricultural industries.

He accepted a suggestion that inspectors work more as liaison officers, giving advice before issuing blanket work orders.

Mr Kobelke said farm accident statistics were alarming, but revealed only part of the problem.

"These are really only the tip of the iceberg, with the high levels of self-employment in the industry, the fact that only half of its workers are covered by workers compensation and its traditional lack of incident reporting, we are really looking at a much bigger problem," he said.

The importance of increasing accident reports, severe or not, to attract necessary resources, was highlighted. It was suggested GPs and chemists might help in gathering information.

PGA president Barry Court said his senior staff could not attend because of commitments such as the visit of a Chinese trade ambassador.

Nonetheless, PGA had a commitment to farm safety and would agree to an extended role on the issue, he said.

WAFarmers president Trevor De Landgrafft said his organisation would become more involved and said farm safety was a personal priority for him.

He said FarmSafe had been too theoretical and WAFarmers could employ a more practical, hands-on approach to safety through its rural network.


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