New approach to tackle agriculture health, safety

A new partnership of rural research and development corporations (RDCs) is investing in a fresh approach to improve primary production’s health and safety record centred on innovative research and extension. The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA), will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks.

Key features of the alliance include setting clear priorities to better target research, development and extension; strengthening industry leadership and developing a 'shark tank' funding model, where applicants work together to pitch projects for funding.

There is an urgent need to change the current approach to bring about change in the industry’s health and safety record. Health and safety performance has hardly changed in the past 15 years and the direct and indirect financial impact of agricultural workplace deaths is estimated to be $1.5 billion over this period.

There is an enormous social, emotional and economic toll to workplace death and injury so the alliance is focused on giving farmers and fishers the tools to create safer working environments for themselves, their workers and their families. Not only will we be saving lives but it has been demonstrated in other sectors that improvements to health and safety also bring productivity and financial benefits so there is much to gain by tackling the issue directly.

The alliance will generate new levels of collaboration and best target resources to address what ‘good’ health and safety looks like in theory and in practice. From start-ups through to experienced extension providers, we are wanting new, innovative and creative ways to develop practical solutions and eliminate duplication.

The difference between the alliance and earlier efforts is the research-focused agenda and its competitive funding model which will generate accountability to ensure RD&E investments deliver a return on value and translate into practical improvements for producers. The alliance is seeking registrations of interest from groups or individuals who want to be kept updated as the alliance is formed, such as from research and extension professionals, industry associations, producers, agricultural workers, government and advocacy groups.

To register, or for more information on the alliance, visit 

Andrew Barrett, CEO,

Rural Safety and Health Alliance