Great Southern farm death prompts WorkSafe inquiry into agricultural sector

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.
Camera IconWorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh will conduct an inquiry into the “deeply concerning” rate of agricultural sector deaths in WA after a man was killed in a Great Southern farm accident on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old man died when the towing equipment he was using to move a bogged tractor failed and he was fatally struck to the head on a farm between Varley Creek and Lake King.

Mr Kavanagh said the statistics for the agricultural industry were unacceptable, with Tuesday’s tragedy marking the 12th work-related death in a year for the sector.

“Any work-related death is a tragedy, and I offer my sincere condolences to the family of the worker involved in yesterday’s incident,” he said.

“It is deeply concerning that the number of fatalities in the industry continues to increase.

“As the regulator, I have advised the minister (Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston) of my intention to use my powers under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 to conduct an inquiry into the industry, beginning with examining the tragic deaths of agricultural workers and family members over the past five years.

“The culture in the agriculture industry seems to allow fatal incidents to occur 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 a report into how to make changes in safety to the industry, including recommendations on investigations and enforcements, will be presented to the State Government.

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