There is no easy solution - a new mentality is needed
Of the many challenges facing agriculture today, none is more serious or frightening than farm safety. Serious because of the number and gravity of accidents that can have devastating implications for the individual concerned, their family and wider community; and frightening because nobody is really sure what can be done to reduce the number of fatalities.
There is a saying from the 1900s by American merchant John Wanamaker, "half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half".
Something similar could be said about farm safety. A lot of effort is being spent in trying to improve the situation.
But how do you measure what works?
How do you know when an accident has been prevented or what factor or combination of factors may have been at work?
Farms are intrinsically busy places and, given the constant pressure on commodity prices, commercial farms are likely to become ever busier.
Farms are also dangerous places, involving the use of machinery that is becoming bigger, faster and stronger. Where there are moving parts there will always be wear and tear.
Then there are livestock that, as herd size increases, are becoming less handled and thus wilder. There are more accidents involving livestock, but those involving machinery tend to be more serious.