Push for further farm safety
WITH its combination of hazards and work context, farming can be one of the most dangerous industries in Australia.
As we approach a busy period of the year for growers and machinery, it is an ideal time to emphasise the importance of adequately maintained machinery and equipment to support on-farm safety.
Improper machinery maintenance can lead to costly downtime and lower productivity.
However, equipment that is not serviced properly can also become an unnecessary danger to its operator.
Farmers and contractors looking to make up time or who feel they need to cut corners as a result of preventable breakdowns are also making themselves vulnerable to injuries or worse.
According to Safework Australia, unsafe use of plant is a major cause of workplace injury and death, including from unguarded moving parts, being crushed by mobile plant, sustaining fractures while checking or using plant, and electrocution or burns.
It's something Case IH national after-sales manager Patrick McVeigh has noted over his years of involvement with farm machinery.
"Farmers will talk about losing a finger, or the top of a finger, like other people talk about stubbing a toe," he said.
"It's part of the hazard of being a farmer, but the indication is they weren't doing something safely.
"Too many times I've seen farmers trying to do something with a front end loader and a chain.
"Even at last year's FarmSafe Australia conference, they discussed tractor deaths from rollovers and the lack of safe access platforms.
"New machinery is these days designed with safety in mind, but on older models additional safety features can be fitted by a qualified service technician, such as those at Case IH dealers."
Equipment that is not maintained properly is hazardous - with severe consequences possible when it's farm equipment.
And just because they're a skilled farmer, says Patrick, it doesn't follow that they're skilled in mechanics.
As part of the push for safer farm workplaces, Australian WorkSafe authorities' code of practice says "plant must be maintained and repaired according to the manufacturer's specifications".
The Case IH dealer network provides customers with factory trained service technicians.
They have the skill and experience required to correctly maintain and service Case IH machinery, so that the safety risks associated with operating these important farm assets are minimised.
Purcher International's Steve Purcher understands the importance of regular maintenance and service to maximise operator safety.
"WorkSafe is trying to stop preventable injuries.
"They don't want untrained people 'mucking around' inside engines or the mechanicals of a harvester or baler or similar.
"The best people for those jobs are trained technicians."
Mr Purcher said on top of the safety aspects, properly maintained farm machinery had profit benefits.
"Firstly it will work constantly when farmers need it.
"Operations such as seeding, harvesting, spraying and so on, are very time-critical; breakdowns result in production and income losses.
"Secondly, in the long term, properly maintained farm machinery means better resale value."