Dedicated rural women driving safety on farms

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Girl power: Eyre Peninsula farmer Karen Baines is encouraging women to implement farm safety systems.

Girl power: Eyre Peninsula farmer Karen Baines is encouraging women to implement farm safety systems.

Women play an important role as drivers of safety change on farms.

In recognition of this, two women in South Australia have been encouraging rural women to take on leadership roles.

By encouraging localised support groups for farming women, Karen Baines from the Eyre Peninsula is hoping to encourage and assist women to implement farm safety systems in their farming enterprises.

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“The key benefit for participants is translating safety learnings into practice on the farm, with support from a like-minded group of women,” Mrs Baines said following a pilot, funded by SafeWork SA in 2017.

“I have found that women are often the best placed in the farming business to effect safety changes.”

As a farmer on the Eyre Peninsula Mrs Baines has first-hand experience to share with others.

“Women are key to continual safety improvements on farm, and having a network of friends, neighbours or sisters in law to discuss safety solutions with helps women manage the sometimes ‘unenthusiastic’ male members of the business,” she said.

Recent winner of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in South Australia, Alex Thomas is also instigating change with the launch of the social media campaign #PlantASeedForSafety, which will profile and celebrate a minimum of 100 rural women who are making life-saving changes to safety in primary industries.

Ms Thomas is also encouraging the use of the hashtag #SaveALifeListenToYourWife. 

“My intent is to empower rural women to share their stories of success, to increase their confidence and to make them more aware of their ability to influence change,” Ms Thomas said.

“It’s about normalising a safety mindset as simply ‘the way we do things around here’.”

“The ultimate goal in farm safety is not to hurt or kill someone, which is why we need to look beyond compliance with work health and safety obligations to making practical changes that ensure everyone gets home safely after work each day,” she said.

Having worked in safety in many other industries, Ms Thomas believes there is no substitute for practical risk management. 

“Safety paperwork is merely a last line of defence,” she said.

“Unless the paperwork adds serious value to the way the work is done, I would implore farmers to focus on changing things that really do make a difference.”

“Guards around augers. Fences around dams. Tool lanyards while working at height. Clear communication protocols when working remotely,” she said.

Ms Thomas’ interest in safety is inspired by her experiences as a part time-carer for her father, a former pastoralist, having battled with a number of secondary illnesses after contracting the Q fever virus more than 30 years ago after working with feral goats.

For more information contact Karen Baines on 0421 677 860 or Alex Thomas on 0457  842  775.

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