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New cross-sector program to tackle farm safety

Australian Pork Limited (APL) has joined an alliance of nine rural research and development corporations (RDCs) to improve farm safety through increased funding and a cross-sector strategic approach.

The collaboration of RDCs, know as the Rural Safety & Health Alliance (RSHA), launched its Research, Development and Extension Investment Strategy to coincide with Farm Safety Week (22-26 July). The Strategy leverages effort and invest from nine rural research and development corporations (RDCs) to address common safety and health challenges together

The RDCs involved include AgriFutures Australia, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Eggs, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Grains Research and Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.

RSHA Chair, Patrick Murphy says the Strategy includes a two-fold approach to collaboratively improve farm safety – impact, such as focusing on critical risks and influencing behaviour in the agricultural workplace; and capacity building, including leadership, education and communication to improve health and safety.

“Together the Alliance addresses a vital need in primary industries which represents only 2.6% of the Australian workforce but accounts for an alarming 21% of fatalities,” Mr Murphy said.

“RSHA is investing in research, development and extension to reduce death, injury and illness on farm and enhance health and wellbeing across all rural industries, including mental health to leverage our efforts and investments for collective impact.”

Figures show primary industries have eight times the fatality rate of other Australian industries.

Rachael Bryant, APL’s Manager, Technology Transfer and Industry Capability, says the RDCs have long invested, and will continue to invest, in improving health and safety in Australia’s rural industries but for the first time, this Alliance aligns best-practice health and safey strategy with cross-sectoral collaboration, which will ensure the research and extension undertaken is world-class, rigorous and fit-for-purpose.

“Conservative estimates put the economic impacts of on-farm deaths at $140 million per year,” said Rachael.

“The RSHA Strategy will target sector-relevant critical risks such as tractor, quad bike, utility, truck, car, motorbike accidents, needlestick injury and chemical exposure. Mental health is also a top priority.”

Mr Murphy said projects could include technology innovation, pre- and post-farm gate supply chain issues, data and reporting, extension, communication and leadership initiatives.

Those interested in submitting a preliminary proposal are encouraged to download the RSHA Strategy and register for updates in preparation for the opening of applications.

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Australian Pork Limited

The producer owned organisation supporting and promoting the Australian pork industry. Australian Pork Limited (APL) is caring for the future of Australian pork.