Plantation growers, processers and foresters are all part of the agriculture industry. That’s why Victoria’s forest industries celebrate Farm Safety Week 2022, Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA) CEO Deb Kerr said today.
This year’s Farm Safety Week is themed “Recipe for Averting Disaster”. It highlights some of the intangible risks and hazards that are often underlying causes of incidents and fatalities. In the past three years, WorkSafe Victoria recorded 33 fatalities in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector. Today, at the beginning of Farm Safety Week 2022, Australia’s forest industries have reaffirmed workplace safety as the sector’s number one priority.
“Every forest worker has the right to go to work, and to go home safe”, said Ms Kerr.
“While the industry is clearly focussed on delivering continuous improvement of safety standards, we need our members of parliament to step up and protect our workers, too. We call on them to pass the Sustainable Forests Timber Amendment (Timber Harvesting Safety Zones) Bill 2022, which proposes increased penalties for protesters who enter active harvest areas.
“Every person has the right to be safe at work. Protesters in forestry coupes have ignored this right far and wide, with a detrimental effect on the physical and mental health of workers. The Bill is an important step towards ensuring their safety – but also importantly, the safety of protesters”.
“And Parliament needs to support our Forest Industry Fire Brigades who put their life and welfare on the line to defend people, communities, our built environment, and our forests from bushfires. These firefighters do not have the same presumptive rights as their government-employed colleagues when it comes to cancer – the only firefighters in Victoria that are excluded”, Ms Kerr concluded.