WorkCover NSW has teamed up with partners across the industry to help farmers stay alive and well – this campaign is all about farmers talking to farmers about their own near miss experiences.

This presentation on a new approach to farm safety is introduced by Peter Dunphy, the General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division of WorkCover NSW. It features snapshots from both the campaign creators and the farming community it aims to benefit. It then presents the engaging personal stories of Mark, Hugh, Anna, Glenn, Steve and Daniel. Each story includes the lessons they have learned on how to stay alive and well on farms.

Who is this presentation for?

This presentation is for farmers and anyone interested in the agriculture industry.

About the presenter

WorkCover NSW is the state work health and safety regulator.

This campaign is on response to the almost 5,500 NSW famers who were injured and received workers' compensation over the past three years.

Useful links




Alive and Well – A new approach to promoting farm safety

NSW Government


Peter Dunphy: I think for WorkCover - and I've been with WorkCover for over 20 years - we've really changed the way that we operate. When I first started, it was very much about the stick and prosecuting people and getting people to tell their stories to the courts, in terms of what their penalty would be. We've moved from that to talking about what compliance looks like and now we are actually, I think, working in genuine partnership with industry.

Jodie Deakes: So, from talking to farmers and doing our, what we call customer insight research, where we go out and we find out how farmers want to engage, how they think it's best to get information out into their industry, how will people actually take up those messages, will listen. What they said to us was we really needed to take a back seat and we needed to let the farmers actually be out there selling the message. So that's what we've done.

The Alive and Well campaign is really about farmers sharing their personal stories. We have six videos which have been created centred around key risks on farms, and we have farmers, actually - quite brave farmers standing up and telling their stories about how easily things can go wrong on their farms. They've actually told their personal stories. The benefit of that in terms of getting a message out in a campaign is it's farmers talking to farmers. They're not just talking about their health and wellbeing and it's not just about safety, but it's also about the productivity and the sustainability of their farm as a business. They realise that if you don't get hurt, you don't lose workers, you don't have to - that doesn't impact on your productivity and you don't have the costs associated with trying to get them back into the workplace. So these farmers have shared those stories on this campaign and it's really been an innovative initiative that we've been able to do hand in hand with the community.

Fiona Simson: New South Wales Farmers, in the nearly four years that I've been President, has formed a great working relationship together, and it's so positive that I have seen WorkCover develop a completely different ethos, and that is that they recognise that to get good outcomes on farms, and good outcomes in farming communities, that farmers need to be involved in the process, that it needs to be a collaborative effort. They need to use a carrot rather than a stick and there are huge benefits that flow if the outcome that they're actually seeking is less accidents and less, particularly fatalities, but less accidents on farms. I think that farmers have embraced this new way of working and at New South Wales Farmers, we've been absolutely very pleased to be able to use our network of farmers to get that message out there and to involve regular farmers in making their own farms safer.

Tanya Cameron: The biggest thing for us is that a lot of women have been touched by injuries on farms, and women are often concerned about these things. They raise their concerns and they're often the instigators of some sort of - some measures to actually improve the safety on their farms. Whether that's getting their husband off to the doctor to deal with some mental health issues or whether it's around nagging them to stay safe and keep well, and so, for us, it's a good opportunity to raise awareness of these issues. Farms are not only our workplaces, they're our homes, and they're also our children's playgrounds, if you like, and an adventure land, and we have to make sure that injuries on farms are reduced.

Man: I've been to some similar field days, Orange and that type of thing, but, yeah, first time at AgQuip. It's good. It's big. Pretty impressive, and, yeah, it seems to create a hell of a lot of interest within the rural community.

Paul Irwin: I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the role of WorkCover and there's a fear factor out there of WorkCover coming in with a big stick. So, I think it's an opportunity where we can filter throughout the community, we can explain to them our advisory role. It's a face-to-face discussion about what their basic needs are under our particular piece of legislation. Page 2 of 5

Peter Dunphy: It's a pleasure to be here.

The Alive and Well campaign is a really good example of where we've worked closely to come up with something that is relevant to all farmers.

Fiona Simson: This is a fantastic opportunity for NSW Farmers to be doing what we do best and that is to work with our members to a better, more sustainable, safer farming community.

The Hon. Kevin Anderson: We would like to officially launch Alive and Well here at AgQuip 2014. Thank you very much.

Jeremy Whyte: It's important for WorkCover NSW to be at AgQuip.

Man: I think there's an opportunity here to infiltrate into the rural industry a lot more.

Belinda Taylor: WorkCover's trying to change the way that the wider farming community view them, and for us to be a friendly face, who can give advice, and who are trying to share positive messages about the farming community, I think there's nothing that can beat that.

Jasmina Budisa: It's been overwhelmingly successful to know that all this effort is being put in a place that's actually getting us a result.

Man: It's a way for us to work with the community as opposed to always asking them to come to us.

Gary Mason: Alive and Well is terrific. I was only talking to my immediate manager yesterday. I said, "That's a magnificent tool," and to have the farmers talking about their encounters is a great thing, and I think we get the message across a lot better.

Amy Johnson: For me, I think the best part about this is that it's farmers talking to farmers. It's farmers' stories purely for no other reason than to help their mates, help their family, help their friends, and who better to learn from than the people who do this work each and every day.

Man: Rather than a WorkCover representative coming in that may have no experience whatsoever in that field, providing what they believe is correct advice or support.

Mark Chillingworth: At the end of the day, all we want for people to do is to arrive home safely, and that's to their family and their friends.

Mark Walters: I became involved because after my experience, I reassessed myself and I thought that I could put out a message for others that would potentially face the same situations that I did, then wouldn't have to go through what I went through. The frightening part was it just happened so quickly. One minute, one second you're fine. Everything's fine and the next you are in deep trouble. That's what the shocking part is. It just happened so quickly.

We were sowing our winter crop and to fill up the seed cart, we have to get grain from the silo. To do that, we put the grain from the silo into a grouper, which is on the back of a truck, and taken to the seed cart. I climbed up to the side of the grouper with a shovel to move some grain across, to fit some more into the bin, and I just brushed my left hand, my left arm, against the shaft of the auger. But on that particular position where I brushed it, there was a small bolt protruding from the shaft.

Because it was rotating very quickly, it hooked my jumper and wound up my jumper into a tourniquet. I had a mobile phone. I had to ring somebody. But I was holding the shaft with my free arm but I couldn't use the phone and hold the shaft at the same time. So for me to ring a number, I had to let the shaft go. While ever I wasn't holding the shaft, it would wind up my jumper and shirt even more so, so that it began to even wrap around my neck.

The first number I rang, there was a person which I knew wasn't far away, but he actually wasn't there and so it went to answering machine. I thought, "What a pathetic way to die," to how it's all gonna end Page 3 of 5

up. I mean I'm having trouble breathing, I only had one more phone call left before I thought I'd pass out. So I rang on the brief chance that my mum might be at home and pick up. Fortunately she did. So ...

(Phone rings)

Mum: "Hello?"

Mark Walters: Certainly, with the situation that I've been in, what I've learnt is the fact that all machinery that has a potential to be a danger to the operator should have a guard on it and also, simply carry a mobile phone with you, whatever you're doing, wherever you are around the farm and if you - particularly if you're by yourself. That's a small price to pay for an otherwise - a situation that could be very dire.

Hugh: They can kick a gate or lean against a gate suddenly and it'll fly at you at an incredible pace. I know there's been a lot of farmers very severely injured by collecting a gate in the head. I know certainly there's been a couple who've died. There's two types of people that work with animals – they're people that understand them and people that don't. I like to think I understand them pretty well but they can still certainly cause a lot of headaches.

What you do deal with cattle is they can spook very easily, and when a 600-kilo beast moves, it's moving a hell of a lot of weight. On one occasion, I was pushing some heavy steers into the force so I could do some race work with them. I was square behind the gate and I'd overfilled the force yard a bit too much. They decided they didn't want to go in. Half a dozen of them backed up, went - came straight onto the gate and basically smashed me between the gate and the fence behind me. If I didn't have someone in the yards with me, they could have kept pushing and they would have crushed me. You ask any farmer - they know someone that's come on the wrong side of a beast.

One of the most common injuries and one that I've done quite a few times is back injuries with sheep. Because they're not a big animal, you often try and take short cuts, and that might be just picking one up, manhandling it over a fence rather than opening a gate. Picking up a 60 or 70-kilo animal and throwing it over a five-foot fence, it's not good for you. If I'm out, there's no work getting done, so you'll often push yourself to be back at work a lot sooner than you should, and that can just really compound the injury.

A properly designed set of yards - they're designed with the animal in mind, not so much the operator, so an animal will flow through without you having to force it. It just allows you to just take all the stress out of the situation, and then when you're not stressed, the animal's not stressed and they'll do what you want then.

Always check the yards before you put stock in it. The last thing I do when I let stock out of the yards is I set the yards up for my next bit of work so I know they're always ready and I know that anyone else who's gonna come in and do work in the yards, they're gonna be set up right for them as well.

 Plan ahead

 Don't rush

 And invest in a properly designed set of yards

Anna: So, that was my worst nightmare. It was either a snake had bitten her or the dog, and - or she'd drowned in the dam or, like, the waterways. We'd been here for maybe two to three weeks, so I didn't know the area that well either. I was lawn mowing for about 10 minutes and I went in just to see what she was up to.

She wasn't in the house at all so I looked in the horse paddock and I looked in the shearing shed paddock where we are now, and where the dam is, so I checked all the waterways that I knew of and she - I couldn't find her in either place. She wasn't anywhere to be seen. So at about 40 minutes, I had to ring the police because it was getting a bit worrying. We only had a few hours of daylight left. We probably were down to the last hour and they had a spotter plane looking for her. Page 4 of 5

(Dog barks) (Child giggles)

We finally got in contact with the neighbour that used to live here before us and he sort of knew the area a bit more so he come over to help and he ended up finding Charlize up in the second lot of sheep yards. It's probably around two k's from the house. So she travelled quite a distance. She'd let the dogs off their chains and she was just following them around, so I don't know if she led the dogs astray or the dogs led her astray. So it's a bit of a guessing competition, but the other two come back, it was just her and the pup that didn't 'cause the pup's head was stuck in the sheep yard, so she was just sitting up there waiting for the dog's head to get out so she could come home.

Being in such a big area, you don't know what place to look for first. So from being inside to taking off, you could be looking in the wrong spot, so then that gives them more distance to get away and that's, in my case, that's what had happened. I was looking in the wrong spot and she'd gone in the opposite direction. Just with the – like the fencing, 'cause the fencing around here's not that flash, like, if we'd owned it, we'd have like, probably a Colorbond fence up where she couldn't climb the other side, or just other fencing that prevents climbing children.

If the gates have latches, to be locked, or if they have, like a dog clip, if they aren't child safety, and they can flip them up or something, just to have a latch or something where it makes it a little bit more complicated for kids to undo.

Glenn: Maybe it happened at childhood. I don't know. Just one of those things. In 2008, I visited the local skin dermatologist and I visited her and I was doing that on a regular basis, having skin checks every 12 months. On this particular time, I was aware I had a sore on the side of my neck that wouldn't heal. I didn't think it was anything bad. I thought it was only a basal cell carcinoma. She looked at it, she removed it immediately. When we had the pathology results back, yeah, it came back quite a serious melanoma, much to our surprise. When I had the - received the phone call, I think it was a Monday morning, and it was a melanoma. So, like, you see all the ads on TV and think the worst. My heart fell through the floor.

Then I had to have another operation to remove …They do a larger incision around the site where the melanoma was and a - to remove the lymph nodes. The pathology reports was all positive and I had no melanoma in those lymph nodes, which was great. If I had have left it unattended, it possibly would have entered my bloodstream and then I wouldn't know where it could have ended up through my body. The longer you leave it - well obviously like everything, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to treat. My working habit hasn't really changed. I wear a hat, sunscreen, probably wear, during the day - long pants more so than shorts that I used to 'cause it does get pretty hot, and long-sleeved shirts. But have REGULAR skin checks. Be aware of what your body's doing and if there's anything that looks not quite right, don't hesitate to go to your local GP. You can't afford not to. It happens too quickly.

Steve: Really, it's not that – it's not something to be ashamed of. It's something to own and something to deal with so you can get along with living your life in a positive fashion. Yeah, Dad did deal with some depression quite a number of years ago, probably pushing on 10 years now. He came back from a meeting in Nyngan and lined up a tree and thought about whether it was going to be the tree. Which way? Does he stay on the road or does he go for the tree? The way we noticed that Dad was getting the depression was we saw that he was, again, really negative. He certainly wasn't getting any work done. He felt - he always thought that we were all ganging up on him. Every time we said something negative, he was - yeah, really took it the wrong way and really took it to heart. He took a long time to actually come to terms with that and actually admit that he had a problem.

Fortunately, he chose the road and from that point on, he decided he'd better do something about it. I actually found myself, after I'd analysed for a long time with Dad, thinking, "Does he have depression or is it me or...?" So I'd been through all the – through the beyondblue website really trying to analyse whether it was me, and then suddenly I found myself in that same state that Dad was. I was really not doing much work, trying to avoid work, really tired, didn't want to socialise, really was battling with it. I found myself starting to tick all the boxes and thought, "Righto, I've got to really do something about this." For me, I found that the best thing was to go and see my doctor. I went and saw the doctor and he put me on some antidepressants and took - sent me to see a counsellor, and that was really good. Page 5 of 5

Certainly the antidepressants really made a big difference. I found myself a lot more positive about life, 'cause generally I'm a fairly positive sort of person. I found that coming back to being where I was, that old person, and I've been able to do a lot more and be a lot more productive with my time and really enjoy my life a lot more.

My advice to other farmers would be to make sure you give yourself time to have holidays, to have a hobby, to do things outside the business, to ensure that you get involved with your family, just to become more of a rounded person, and it'll change your perspective on things and you realise that probably it's not as bad as you thought. Don't be too proud as to seek help. There's plenty of places out there to look for. See if you're ticking the boxes, and if you are, certainly go and see a doctor. Don't be afraid to seek help. There's plenty of other people who have. You'll find that it'll be a whole heap better than the alternative.

Daniel: Most of us learn here that at a young age that - never take your eye off any animal, 'cause they are unpredictable and they can turn on you in a heartbeat, and I suppose I learnt that the hard way. It was just a typical day, moving cattle, moving bulls to be precise, a mob of 26. Yeah, they were fighting with each other and carrying on, so they normally do it anyways and I just thought, "Oh, I'll call me boss up for some help." So I moved away from the bulls, and roughly about, I don't know, 50 metres, and called the boss up over the two-way and asked him to come give me a hand. I put the two-way back in the rack of the bike and, yeah, the next minute, turned around and there was a bull there. Smashed me right knee into the fuel tank of the bike and, yeah, took the bike with him for a little bit.

I went and saw a knee specialist, and he said that straight away he saw that there was a clean break in between the kneecap itself, and they operated on it straight away. I got operated on and in hospital for a couple of days and I was on crutches, and then physio pretty well every single day for - I think it was about a month. Then back to work on light duties. I started off doing most of my normal duties that didn't involve me using my right knee. I was allowed to drive around in the Gators like I normally do and do most of the normal duties that I do every day, I was able to do. Yeah, just pretty well spraying fence lines, using chemicals, and painting fences, anything that didn't really involve me standing up for long periods of time. Everyone here on farm was very supportive of it all. My boss, he was very supportive of it all. He was ringing me pretty well every day to make sure I was getting along all right, but everyone was very supportive and glad that I was back at work, so.

The whole farm has, from my injury, learnt a little – a lot more. Like, they've never had that sort of accident happen on farm before. But, yeah, now when we move bulls, we try and use the Gators 'cause they've got the full rollover protective structure. They're a lot more safe than a two-wheel, a lot more protection right around, and the bulls seem to be a little bit more scared of a Gator than what they would be a bike. Listen to your doctor, listen to your physiotherapist, don't overstrain yourself and yeah, do the exercises that the physiotherapist tells you to do. They help a lot.

Peter Dunphy: We really are really appreciative of the input and the support we've had from the partners in the program and that includes New South Wales Farmers, the Country Women's Association, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, the Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, and also the Department of Primary Industries, and of course WorkCover, who have been facilitating the process. So for us, it's really important for us to be able to promote the stories and for people to tell their stories about how to improve health and safety on the farms.


[End of Transcript]

More Videos

Can't find what you're looking for?

Please let us know.

Share this page:

Facebook    LinkedIn    Twitter    Email