Work and hazards in agriculture

The agricultural industry employs about 3% of all employees in Australia. About 4% of employed young people work in the agricultural industry.

The main types or sub-sectors of the agricultural industry are:

  • horticulture
  • grain farming
  • cattle farming
  • fishing
  • forestry.

Many agricultural businesses are run by families where there is no real boundary between home and the workplace.

There are many jobs that young workers can do in the agricultural industry including:

  • farm hand
  • fruit picker
  • deck hand
  • transport driver
  • gardener
  • machine operator.

The most common hazards in the agricultural industry are:

  • using unguarded machinery - eg. the power take off on tractors or conveyor lines
  • manual harvesting - eg. fruit picking that involves awkward working positions and reaching above your shoulder or head
  • heavy lifting - eg. moving or lifting animals, moving feed and lifting fruit cases
  • elevated work - eg. working in silos and cool stores where there is the possibility of falling
  • fatigue - eg. working extended hours during peak times (eg. harvesting) and working in hot or cold weather.

The chance that these hazards will result in an injury for young workers is higher when combined with risk factors such as:

  • lack of supervision
  • lack of training
  • working alone
  • working long days
  • temporary employment
  • trying to impress the boss, supervisor or co-workers.

When hazards are combined with risk factors (these are called dangerous combinations) the chance of injury, and the possible seriousness of the injury, increases.

Dangerous combination in agriculture - an example

Jacqui drives the quad bike (all terrain-vehicle) on the family's farm. She really likes riding it but has never been taught to drive it; she has just been doing it for years. Jacqui often does farm jobs using the quad bike after she comes home from school. She works by herself.

Being tired after school, working alone and lack of training are all risk factors that greatly increase the chance of Jacqui rolling the bike or having an accident and injuring herself.

Want to know more?

Then have a look at some of the resources about the agriculture industry in the Resource centre.