Fleur Tonge and her family, who live west of Casino, practice farm-safety.
Fleur Tonge and her family, who live west of Casino, practice farm-safety.

Tractor accident a farm tragedy

THE death of a man in a farming accident near Tenterfield has served as a tragic reminder of the dangers of living and working on the land.

The man, 90, was found about 11pm on Monday, pinned under the wheel of his tractor which had rolled in an apple orchard at Cottonvale, about 60km north of Tenterfield.

The incident took the number of reported farm-related deaths in NSW to four since the beginning of the year, and to 27 nationally. In 2010, 44 people died nationally, while a further 68 serious non-fatal injuries were reported.

Tractor and quad-bike accidents account for the largest number of injuries and deaths. Of the on-farm deaths recorded in 2010, 16% were children aged 15 years and under, who died mainly as a result of drowning in dams or in cattle and sheep dips.

“These sorts of incidents are tragic, not only for the family, but also the community,” Australian Centre for Agriculture Health and Safety director Tony Lower, said.

“We all know that living on the land is a great lifestyle, but it also has its hazards.”

Mr Lower said death rates caused by farming accidents had fallen 40% in the past 20 years, but more needed to be done in terms of prevention.

“Most of the solutions are things that people are aware of and well familiar with,” he said.

“And (the Cottonvale accident) does demonstrate that farmers continue to work for much longer than many other occupations, and because of the physical changes that come with aging that does create some additional risks.”

To reduce the risk of injury or death, Mr Lower recommended as a minimum rollover prevention structures be installed on all tractors, a crush prevention device be installed on quad-bikes, that farms construct “safe-play” areas for children under the age of five, and anyone operating farm machinery should be properly trained and supervised.

National Farm Safety Week, aimed at improving on-farm safety, runs from July 18-22.

A report on the Cottonvale accident will be prepared for the coroner.