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Farm safety report card reveals rise in farm work deaths in 2017

A new farm safety report card compiled by Sydney University shows there were 68 farm deaths reported by the Australian media in 2017, a slight rise from the 63 in 2016.

The research, by the university’s Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, showed tractors (13) and quad bikes (11) were the leading causes of death, making up more than 40 per cent of the total. Tragically, nine of the fatal cases (13 per cent) involved children aged under 15 years, with quad bikes involved in a third of these incidents.

In Queensland, a worker on a Tamborine Mountain farm was killed last December when a single seat ride on mower being driven by another worker rolled over on a steep slope and crushed her.

A few weeks before, a worker was killed when his tractor went over the edge of a steep embankment on a banana farm in North Queensland. The driver was doing a U-turn when it appears he drove over the embankment and was thrown or jumped from the tractor, with his injuries indicating the tractor rolled over him.

Environmental conditions may have contributed to this incident as it had been raining in the preceding days which left the road muddy. The tractor was fitted with a roll over protective system (ROPS), but there was no seatbelt.

The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety report also provides detail on 179 non‐fatal incidents (up from 144 in 2016) that have been in the media, with quads again the main cause, involved in almost a quarter of the incidents. Of the 179, 22 involved children and 87 occurred in Queensland. Working with cattle and horses was also high on the injury list.

Centre spokesman Dr Tony Lower said the non‐fatal cases were very significant because farm injuries could have lifelong consequences.

“Each farm injury death or injury is one too many as all cases cause great suffering for family, friends and whole communities,” Dr Lower said.

“Many more deaths and injuries can be prevented by using solutions which we know from the evidence work.

“These figures emphasise how important it is to have safety as a major priority in your farm business. Planning for safety in the same way that you plan for your crops or stock will go a long way to reducing these incidents and the impacts they have.”

Further information

More information is at sydney.edu.au/medicine/aghealth/publications/reports.php

Last updated
25 January 2018

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