Inquiry launched into spate of agriculture-related deaths in Western Australia

Western Australia’s safety authority has announced an inquiry into the agriculture sector following the 12th death in as many months. 

WorkSafe commissioner Darren Kavanagh announced the inquiry on Wednesday, a day after a 24-year-old man was killed on a farm between Lake King and Varley Creek in the state’s Great Southern region.

The man was attempting to move a bogged vehicle with a tractor when the towing equipment failed, fatally striking his head.

Mr Kavanagh said the number of deaths was too high.

“The statistics for the agricultural industry are not acceptable, and it is deeply concerning that the number of fatalities in the industry continues to increase,” he said.

A man in a suit and tie smiling while in a seated position.
WorkSafe WA commissioner Darren Kavanagh has announced an inquiry into WA’s agriculture sector.(Supplied: WorkSafe WA)

“Any work-related death is a tragedy, and I offer my sincere condolences to the family of the worker involved in yesterday’s incident.”

In a strongly worded statement, Mr Kavanagh said the agriculture sector recorded deaths at a higher rate than any other industry.

“The culture in the agriculture industry seems to allow fatal incidents to occur at significantly higher rates than any other industry, with farm production appearing to be put before the safety of families and workers,” he said.

Recommendations to improve industry safety

Mr Kavanagh said the inquiry would include recommendations on changes to make the industry safer.

WA Farmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said the death in the Great Southern yesterday was the fourth in the state this year.

“The State Government on the back of the industrial manslaughter laws which were passed last year, made it very clear that unless the farming industry adopted far better safety protocols and reduced incidents, moving towards zero fatality, they would start pursuing the industry with much more rigour,” he said.

Mr Whittington said some of the recent deaths were on hobby farms rather than agricultural operations and that safety was everyone’s responsibility.

“It’s a dangerous industry and it’s had a series of fatalities, each and every year … but the industry has done a lot to improve its safety record.”

Leave a Comment