Safety, health and wellbeing on farms

Images ALT Text: 1. Farming family smiling at each other standing in front of cattle yards. 2. Smiling man picking apricots in an orchard. 3. Smiling man with his arm around a woman, standing in an orchard.

Farms are homes as well as workplaces. We all have a part to play in improving farm safety, health and wellbeing.

Farms make up 14 % of all workplace fatalities, despite employing only 2 % of working Victorians. On average, 2 people are injured on Victorian farms every day. Some of the key risk factors for injury or death on farms are:

  • Working long hours and in isolation
  • Unsafe or unfamiliar equipment use
  • Animal handling
  • Electrical safety.

People living and working in farming communities can have ongoing mental health challenges linked to high exposure to natural disasters and extreme climate events.

Farming activities are also linked to chronic health problems - such as hearing loss, chronic pain and respiratory problems. These affect the wellbeing of our farming communities.

Machinery and farm technology improvements have reduced safety hazards over time, but there is still more we can do to reduce risks and improve mental health concerns.

There is a need to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of people living, working and playing on farms are prioritised in everyday farm decisions - to create a culture of safety on farms.

To change farm safety culture, industry, government and others need to provide consistent messaging and minimise barriers to safety.

The Victorian Government is investing in initiatives to improve farm safety which you can read about below.

Farming Safe and Well program

Farming Safe and Well is a $2.1 million program delivering activities and resources to improve farm safety outcomes in Victoria over 3 years.

The program is delivering farm safety communications and engagement activities and targeted interventions to address farm safety priorities, including protocols to address the farm safety risks associated with natural disasters.

Farming Safe and Well builds on the successes of the Smarter, Safer Farms program by:

  • Improving farm safety culture by designing resources based on behavioural evidence.
  • Collaborating with other agencies and organisations to extend on their program activities with a focus on cross-promotion rather than duplication.
  • Developing capability across Agriculture Victoria’s services, networks and programs to support improved farm safety culture.

Making Our Farms Safer

The Victorian Government is partnering with the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) to deliver the Making Our Farms Safer project.

Making our Farms Safer improves safety outcomes on Victorian farms by providing free services and resources to all Victorian farmers through farm safety advisory services and other activities which support workplace safety.

Making Our Farms Safer resources include:

National Centre for Farmer Health

Agriculture Victoria partners with the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) to support delivery of key health programs to farming communities in Victoria. The NCFH contributes to continuing farm safety culture change and mental health and wellbeing outcomes for farmers and their families, and provides support to farming communities during crisis events, such as bushfires and floods.

Farmers, farm workers and farming families are encouraged to take charge of their health and book for a free health check today, get involved in the NCFH programs or access health, wellbeing and safety resources.

Regional Wellbeing Survey

The Regional Wellbeing Survey collects data across rural and regional Australia to better understand wellbeing, liveability and resilience in the rural and regional communities. Since 2020, Agriculture Victoria has partnered with the University of Canberra to develop a deeper understanding of work health and safety risks among the Victorian agriculture workforce.

Information collected in the survey is used to assess quality of life for those living in rural and regional communities and helps to inform health and wellbeing program design. Get involved in the Regional Wellbeing Survey and sign up to email updates.

Reports from the Regional Wellbeing Survey results are available online.

Other farm safety resources

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Each short AgVic Talk episode provides a snapshot of rural Victoria through real-life stories from young farmers, rural women, aspiring leaders and those whose lifetime of experience is giving them an opportunity to guide and help others in agriculture.

Episodes on farm health and safety dive into farmers’ experiences across the state, discussing near misses and incidents that have made them realise that their most important farm asset is the people who listen and work there. These farm safety episodes were delivered as part of the Smarter, Safer Farms program.

Subscribe and listen to AgVic Talk wherever you get your podcasts or listen online.

WorkSafe Victoria provides industry specific workplace health and safety information for agriculture which includes practical advice tailored for each sector and key safety topics, including fatigue, safety gear and safer cattle handling.

Victorian farmers share their experiences with proactive farm safety and how they have prioritised safety on their farms through case studies and farm safety videos.

Subscribe to email updates to get the latest agriculture updates in an email newsletter.

For general advice relating to farm safety, please contact WorkSafe Victoria on 1800 136 089. WorkSafe can offer free confidential safety audits and advice.

For information about electrical safety on farms, including powerline safety and gas safety, visit Energy Safe Victoria.

The Better Health Channel has a range of resources, services and support for a range of health issues faced by rural and regional communities.

Visit Kidsafe Victoria for farm safety resources for parents and carers such as the parent’s guide to kid safe farms and farm safety checklist.

Lifeline – access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Beyond Blue – information and support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention.

Headspace – provides early intervention mental health services to 12–25 year olds.

TIACS – a free confidential phone and text counselling service offering mental help support to farmers, blue collar workers, and those who care about them.

ifarmwell – a free online tool kit to help farmers cope effectively with life’s challenges.

Past farm safety programs

Smarter, Safer Farms

Smarter, Safer Farms was a $20 million program between 2018-2022. It invested in projects for farm safety and wellbeing to influence Victoria’s farm safety culture and reduce the number of deaths and injuries on farms. The program also delivered a skills program which provided targeted training to build capability in financial literacy, risk management, farm planning and adaption to climate change.

Project areas included:

  • Bush nursing in Gippsland – a 12-month preventative healthcare project for remote communities in East Gippsland in 2021 delivered by the Victorian Department of Health.
  • Farm Safety Council – the council provided leadership and guidance across Smarter, Safer Farms project areas to meet the safety, health and wellbeing needs of the agriculture sector into the future.
  • Farm safety rebate scheme – funded over 1000 farms to make permanent safety improvements.
  • Farm safety creative competition – Kidsafe Victoria raised farm safety awareness among pre-school and primary school aged children in Victoria through a colouring competition.
  • Resilient farming communities – funded 11 community organisations to deliver programs that enhanced social connectedness through community events and training, along with increasing awareness of mental health treatment options and care and support services.
  • Preparing students for a career in agriculture – 20 Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety™ practical and interactive workshops were delivered to participating secondary schools. Visit NCFH for more information.
  • SmartSkills from SmartFarms – this project connected communities with science and collaborated with education providers and industry to build capability and future skills. The project invested in 5 SmartFarms at Ellinbank, Hamilton, Horsham, Mildura and Tatura, and the Get into AgSTEM program for upper primary and secondary students to develop capability in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Page last updated: 15 Apr 2024