According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, more than half of Australia’s land is used for agriculture and around 5% of the nation’s workers are employed by the agriculture industry. With so many people engaged in this type of work, workplace injuries do sometimes occur despite health and safety regulations in place.
So, what are some of the most common farm worker injuries and what can an injured worker to do seek compensation?
The most common injury endured by farm workers is body stress. These types of injuries relate to hard labour and wear on the body. They can include back and neck injuries, sprains and strains.
Falls are another common injury for farm workers. Falls from both heights and at level ground can happen whilst farming and are usually the result of tripping on hazardous objects on the ground or falling from transport, silos, trees and ladders.
When working with animals there is the added risk of unpredictability. This can lead to dangerous movements, for example, quad bikes overturning during mustering, falls from horses, rams or knocks from strong animals, and venomous stings and bites from wild creatures living on the farmland, which can cause severe or even fatal injuries.
Working on vast landscapes means that the use of vehicles is a crucial part of farm work. Vehicles can range from cars and utes to tractors and trucks, to motorbikes and even planes. Accidents involving vehicles can include tipping or overturning, crashes or workers falling from vehicles. Sometimes plane crashes are responsible for workplace related injuries.
Heat, radiation and electricity
Electrocution is a common incident which causes injury in farm workers. It can result in burns both to the skin and also the internal organs. Electrocution can be caused by electric fencing, machinery and accidental contact with overhead power lines.
Sun exposure is another common cause of injury during farm work. It can result in burns, heat stroke and dehydration which can cause further injury.
Psychological injuries are also commonplace in farm work and can manifest in the form of stress, trauma, depression and anxiety. These types of injuries are usually caused by bullying, harassment and poor treatment in unsafe and high-stress working environments. Workers can claim compensation for psychological injuries in the same way they would for a physical injury.
What rights are held by international travellers working on a temporary visa in Australia?
It is common for international travellers to undertake farm work during a long-term visit Australia. Sometimes visa-holders are led to believe they do not have the same rights as Australian citizens or permanent residents, but this is untrue where workers’ compensation is concerned.
Workers on temporary visas with working rights must be covered by insurance and their employer must take out this insurance. Therefore, if a worker is injured on the job, they are able to seek compensation to pay for medical appointments, rehabilitation and lost wages.
The worker should also ensure their own safety at work by:
- following the rules and procedures in place to keep workers safe;
- acting responsibly to avoid harming themselves or others;
- not working under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- using equipment carefully and in the manner for which it is intended;
- asking for assistance if they are unsure about how to use equipment or tools; and
- using safety equipment or asking for safety equipment if it is not supplied.
If you have been injured whilst undertaking farm work and you would like to make a claim for compensation, you should seek the assistance of a workers compensation lawyer who can help manage your case and strict deadlines.