Friday, June 21, 2024

Terms of agricultural industry deaths inquiry released

WA WorkSafe Commissioner, Darren Kavanagh, has released the Terms of Reference for his Inquiry into the Agricultural Industry and appointed an Independent Inquirer to assist him.

The death of a Great Southern farm worker in June was the 12th death in the Agriculture industry in 12 months, leading the Commissioner to initiate an Inquiry under the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2020.

The Inquiry will result in a report that reflects the findings and makes recommendations on matters that affect safety performance in the industry and have influenced the increase in fatal incidents.

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry will include (but not be limited to):

  • Researching the impact of fatalities on the industry;
  • Investigating measures to ensure that policies, training and support is aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries in the industry;
  • Looking at issues affecting the industry arising from external factors such as environmental factors and the global pandemic; and
  • Examining data collection across Australia for the past five years to consider activities that led to fatalities but were not recorded as agricultural;
  • Recommending strategies, performance measures and targets to reduce and eliminate deaths and serious injuries in agriculture;
  • Examining the role and powers of WorkSafe inspectors and the application of policies and codes of practice;
  • Considering arrangements to improve the safety of workers engaged in high risk work and the use of certain plant and hazardous substances;
  • Investigating the role of WHS regulatory agencies in providing education, advice and assistance to the industry.

The Commissioner has appointed Pam Scott (pictured, above) to the position of Independent Inquirer to assist in conducting the Inquiry.

Ms Scott is a former Industrial Relations Commissioner and Chief Industrial Relations Commissioner who served in those roles for a total of 25 years until 2021.

The WorkSafe Commissioner has expressed his disappointment with the number of deaths in the industry, announcing this Inquiry in June and stating that the statistics were not acceptable and he was concerned that the number of deaths continued to increase.

“The Inquiry will consider the culture of the agriculture industry that seems to accept fatal incidents at significantly higher rates than any other industry, with farm production appearing to be put before the safety of families and workers,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“I envisage that the Inquiry will be completed and the report written by the end of this year.”

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