Adam Symons, an experienced farmer from Ganmain NSW, recently found himself being airlifted to hospital after his arm was completely severed in a hay baler1. His quick reaction to put something around his arm to stop the bleeding, and drive his tractor 400 metres to get help saved his life. He was one of the lucky ones.

Farmers and farm workers experience a disproportionately high workplace fatality and injury rate and the numbers have not changed significantly in the past decade. Agriculture makes up about 2% of the Victorian workforce, but accounts for about 30% of the workplace fatalities. Other industries, such as mining, have achieved significant reductions in workplace incidents, but these industries have very different workplace structures to farms and operate under more controlled environments.

Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) and WorkSafe Victoria have therefore made safety in agriculture a priority. Influencing the culture of safety on farms is complex given that farms can be homes, places of recreation and workplaces. A better understanding of the contextual factors influencing safety culture in agriculture is needed.

ISCRR partnered with Deakin University’s National Centre for Farmer Health to look at research on influencing safety culture, as well as an analysis of programs and initiatives relevant to safety culture change in agriculture. Understanding the barriers and opportunities for culture change was a focus.

This research will provide a sound base of evidence for informing Victorian Government priorities and approaches for influencing future farm safety. Most importantly it will assist in reducing injuries and deaths on farms. The Department intends to undertake a separate project on the measurement of farm safety culture.