Farm safety part of bigger picture | OPINION

Farm safety part of bigger picture | OPINION

Editorial
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Don't discount farm safety and what it does for agriculture's image to the world.

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OPINION

IT is a shame when the health and safety of an industry gets political.

That's what's happening with quad bikes.

In short, farming groups are calling for mandatory safety features to be built into quad bikes. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has backed the need for change via a report.

But despite receiving that report, the Federal Government has sat on it, calling for a third round of consultation over the issue. Someone is obviously in its ear.

Of course, there was an election this year which held things up.

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Adding pressure to the situation are the strong comments from the major bike manufacturers, threatening to pull out of the Australian market if said reforms are introduced.

Meanwhile, it seems there's always another headline about a quad bike-related death each month.

This publication has dubbed them the "Quad Wars" because that's where it's heading - a back-and-forth pull between manufacturers who don't want extra costs and those using the products on the ground.

There are risks in working in agriculture. It's just the nature of an industry dealing with large machinery, tight deadlines, livestock, chemical use and humans.

Anything that could make this work safer should be implemented.

The quad bike is a tool that is used right across agriculture, whether it's going up and down orchard rows, mustering sheep, inspecting vegetable crop weeds or checking cotton irrigation channels. That's why the issue is drawing such focus from so many groups.

It is encouraging to see horticulture doing its best to improve the safe working environment for farmers.

Hort Connections 2019 saw the launch of Fair Farms, an initiative aimed at fostering fair and responsible employment practices in Australian horticulture.

That will mean safer workers all round.

Should all parties eventually decide to "play ball" with regards to quad bikes, the outcome will hopefully be less lives lost and even a gain in productivity through reducing accident injuries.

Also, the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia - New Zealand released the Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety 2019.

This is aimed at improving safety at a different front - food safety, something that would affect both farm employers and their customers.

Both these programs are positive steps forward.

Should all parties eventually decide to "play ball" with regards to quad bikes, the outcome will hopefully be less lives lost and even a gain in productivity through reducing accident injuries.

Extra protocols, procedures and the cost of fitting out safety improvements may seem like a hassle but there's a bigger picture at play.

It's about creating a more workable environment which in turn paints a better picture of agriculture overall, improving the appeal of it as a place where careers can be built.

Safety gains today mean a healthier ag industry tomorrow.

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