Safety a priority on the farm

Max Horvath thinks about how lucky he was to escape from under the crushing weight of the slasher which pinned him to the ground for hours.
Max Horvath thinks about how lucky he was to escape from under the crushing weight of the slasher which pinned him to the ground for hours. Max Fleet

THE soaring cost of farming accidents has prompted a Bundaberg grower to speak out about the need for a safety-first attitude.

Researchers from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety say each on-farm mishap can cost up to $1 million, and serious accidents are costing the agricultural sector more than $1 billion every year across the country.

Their study shows that quad bike crashes had recently overtaken tractor rollovers as the most common cause of death.

Calavos farmer Max Horvath said growers should pay attention to the figures, and be aware they could lose a lot more than money if they did not play it safe.

After a terrifying ordeal in January when he became trapped under a slasher, Mr Horvath spent several weeks in hospital, and at one point feared he would lose his leg.

Since then, Mr Horvath has recovered well physically, but said his accident highlighted the potential dangers involved in farm work.

“Quad bikes are definitely the most common cause of deaths on farms,” Mr Horvath said.

“They can flip over so easily if you go a bit too fast, hit a rock or if you do the wrong thing and drive where you shouldn’t.”

He said the four-wheeled motorbikes were even more dangerous in the hands of youngsters.

“I’ve banned my kids from riding them. Kids don’t have the body weight or strength to control them,” he said.

“Kids also often don’t have the common sense — that’s why most motorbikes will have a warning not to let anyone under 16 use them.”

But as Mr Horvath discovered, tractors also held hidden dangers.

“I constantly hear of loose clothing and hair getting caught in tractor machinery and causing injury,” Mr Horvath said.

He advised farm workers to use extra support to prop up heavy machinery while doing maintenance.

“If you’re working on a tractor, don’t rely on hydraulics to hold it up — that’s what went wrong with me,” he said.

And after two men were injured on Friday after a car crashed into their tractor on Dr Mays Crossing Road, Mr Horvath said drivers also needed to be careful around farm traffic.

“Watch them carefully and be patient — the bigger tractors are very wide so be patient if you want to overtake,” he said. “Most farmers will pull off the road if they’re in a tractor and they know someone is behind them.”

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