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Number of farm deaths has risen this year says research database

Image: CSIRO [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tractors and quad bikes the main causes of farm fatalities and serious injury

 The number of fatalities occurring on Australia’s farms has increased, with statistics from the first six months of 2019 showing the rate in Queensland has doubled, according to a survey by the University of Sydney.

The report is part of the National Farm Injury Coronial Database, which was set up in 2004 by the university’s school of rural heath at its Dubbo campus in central New South Wales.

The 2019 data from January to June has been published online by AgriFutures – a government research funding agency formerly known as the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

The report compares the number of farm fatalities occurring from January to the end of June for both 2018 and 2019. 

During the six-month period in 2019, a total of 34 deaths occurred with most states showing a decrease in comparison to the first six months of 2018. However, the total number of farm deaths increased from 30 to 34, chiefly due to an increase in Queensland farm fatalities.

The number of deaths in Queensland rose from 6 in 2018 to 13 in 2019. Most of these deaths involved farm machinery such as tractors and quad bikes.

The report says that over the past 18 years, there have been 1,456 deaths caused by farm accidents in Australia. Almost half of these have been men over 50 years and around 15 per cent, or 217 deaths, have been children under 15 years. Farm tractors were the cause of 234 deaths and quad bikes were involved in 182 fatal accidents. 

The report has published a chart listing the causes of farm deaths in the first six months of 2019. Quad bikes, which are used as an all-purpose farm vehicle, were the main cause of deaths, with 7 fatalities. This was followed by farm tractors (3), motorbikes (3), cars (2) and light aircraft (2). 

The report says there were also reports of an additional 67 serious injuries occurring on farms, with 13 per cent of these involving children. Quad bikes, horses, farm utes and tractors accounted for more than half of these incidents.