A new Dairy Australia initiative to prevent deaths and injuries on dairy farms is set to position the industry as a leader in workplace safety.
Developed after a tragic 2016 saw six lives lost on Australian dairy farms, the program has already been credited with transforming the safety culture on a number of farms since a pilot began late last year.
A Farm Safety Starter Kit and workshops across all eight dairy regions have been designed to help farmers complete a quick safety scan of their property before guiding them through the development of a comprehensive safety program.
At the end of the process, farmers will have introduced practical safety measures around their farms and be operating with a tailored Farm Safety Manual in place.
The manual outlines policies and practices to prevent serious injuries across 14 key areas, including quad bike safety, working with livestock, confined spaces and children in the workplace.
Graeme and Jenny Cope employ up to six people at their farm at Fish Creek in Victoria.
Through their involvement in the Focus Farm project, the pair had identified creating a safer work environment as a major priority.
For Mrs Cope, improving quad bike safety was at the top of the list.
"At the start of it all, there were no helmets worn, no rollover protection, they just jumped on and got going and that's what was scaring me," she said. "They were going way too fast and I thought someone is going to get hurt here."
After being introduced to the Farm Safety Starter Kit at a GippsDairy Farm Safety Day, the couple enlisted the help of their field services officer to do a safety scan of their property and came up with an action plan.
They then worked with their employees and GippsDairy workforce co-ordinator Leah Maslen to develop safety policies, including a quad bike policy that Mrs Cope said changed the farm's safety culture overnight.
"We fitted three bikes with rollover protection and they all have helmets," she said. "So if you get on the bike, you've got a helmet or you're in strife."
Dairy Australia farm safety project manager William Youl said the resources enabled farmers to take a staged approach to creating a safe work environment.
"Once they have done their risk assessment and developed an action plan with the Starter Kit, the Farm Safety Manual resource walks them through the process of addressing areas of risk one-by-one," Mr Youl said.
The resources were developed with heavy involvement from the safe work authorities in each state.