AgSkilled has credited the increased focus on safety through initiatives such National Farm Safety Week in helping to reduce farm fatalities and injuries, and assisting farmers to identify more innovative training methods to keep their workers safe.
National Farm Safety Week (July 16-22) is an initiative of Farmsafe Australia and aims to raise awareness of farm safety issues and promote better on-farm practices through innovation and improved attention.
AgSkilled co-ordinator Claudia Vicary believes training has an important role to play in reducing the risk of accidents on farm.
The initiative has been running for 19 years and the 2018 theme is “Innovative, Safe and Healthy”.
AgSkilled Coordinator Claudia Vicary said this years’ theme is inline with AgSkilled’s future-focused approach to training.
“The key responsibility for farm safety rests primarily with individual farmers, farm families and farm workers, so we need to improve their knowledge, understanding and implementation of practical safety solutions to reduce the risk of death, injury and illness,” AgSkilled Coordinator Claudia Vicary said.
“So projects like AgSkilled have an important role to play in providing the rural industry with practical and relevant training, which upskill the existing workforce and prepare industry newcomers.”
AgSkilled is an industry-led partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Cotton Australia, and the New South Wales Government, which is investing $14.7 million over three years to prepare the rural workforce for current and future challenges.
Ms Vicary said the project funds a broad range of training programs, from certificate I through to advanced diploma level, including a range of practical safety-related training including safe machinery operation, working at heights, confined spaces, forklift as well as specialist workplace health and safety courses.
Through Tocal College, Bec Fing from House Paddock Training and Consulting, delivers ‘WHS for supervisors and mangers’ - a course funded through AgSkilled to allow better understanding of the risks in farming and provide some framework for improvement.
She agrees better knowledge and training were key to reducing the safety risks on-farm.
“As business owners, we have legal obligations that include keeping the workplace safe and having systems in place to keep our people safe. A large part of this is ensuring staff are trained to do what is asked of them – safely,” Mrs Fing said.
“It is also about having a culture of safety and best practice on-farm, so you are ensuring your employees have the skills to safely complete jobs, your tools and equipment and machinery are well maintained and at industry standard and you have the procedures in place to ensure everyone understands how to complete jobs safely.”
GRDC Grower Relations Manager North Richard Holzknecht is also a staunch advocate of safe farm practices and believes initiatives like AgSkilled offer NSW grains and cotton industry producers, farm workers, contractors and industry professionals the opportunity to access valuable, fee-free training.
“Safer farm practices ultimately mean better businesses, so I would encourage all those working in the grains and cottons industries across New South Wales to make some time during Farm Safety Week to assess what training programs are on offer that might benefit them and make their work days safer,” Mr Holzknecht said.
FarmSafe Australia Chairman Charles Armstrong said ensuring the safety of those working in agriculture was a primary focus of National Farm Safety Week.
Mr Armstrong said Farm Safety Week continues to highlight the importance of business and industry working together to increase the well-being of Australian farmers through innovation and improved attention to health and safety outcomes.
National Farm Safety Week is held each year to raise awareness of farm safety issues across Australia. For more information go to the Farmsafe website or contact Farmsafe Australia on (02) 6269 5622.
AgSkilled offers training programs across New South Wales for those involved in all levels of the grains and cotton industries, from producers to those with a genuine interest in joining the agricultural workforce.
AgSkilled Workplace Health and Safety Courses can be run statewide, subject to interest. To register your interest, head to the AgSkilled website.
Claudia Vicary, AgSkilled
0409 043 774
Charlotte Thomson, Cox Inall Communications
0428 374 952