1 February 2021.

In 2017, a sugarcane worker was crushed to death trying to fix a cane haul-out vehicle.

The vehicle broke down and instead of calling a mechanic to fix it, one of the directors of the company he worked for advised him to fix it himself.

He tried to fix the issue – a leaking hydraulic line – but didn’t turn the machine off first and was crushed by it. Another worker found him twenty minutes later.

The business they worked for was prosecuted over the incident and fined $150,000 for failing to comply with its primary safety duty and for “exposing one of its workers to risk of serious injury or death.”

Cold comfort for the worker’s family.

The bottom line is that if you run any sort of farming business you must have a clear set of instructions for workers when it comes to maintaining and servicing plant in line with the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004.

The Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

The Code bars workers from doing field repairs single-handedly and states that services and repairs on machinery must be carried out in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications.

There are fines for businesses who don’t follow the Code, but worse than that, as the example above demonstrates, the consequences can damage far more than your bottom line.

For more information on WHS visit or email