Learnings from tragedy – Dairy Farming Effluent Pond Best Practice?

Court Summaries of Worksafe Prosecutions always hold stark and clear learnings from tragic fatalities in the Agricultural workplace.

The facts in brief: 15 August 2014.

The Defendant company is a pig meat production business that operates a farm. The farm has an in-ground effluent sump.

The victim was employed as a truck driver and farm worker. On the day of the incident, he drove a tanker to the sump to pump the effluent into the tanker.

The victim was found deceased in the effluent underneath the pontoon. The coronial autopsy determined that the cause of death was drowning.

Learnings from the fatal incident – as reasoned by the judge presiding.

  1. Ensure a written policy and procedure for the extraction of effluent is in place;
  2. Ensure a means to stabilise a pontoon is in place;
  3. Ensure a hazardous container is securely covered; and
  4. Ensure a secure and adequate fence is in place around a hazardous container.

Though not directly related to the dairy industry one might draw from this precedent that all types of effluent ponds should be effectively fenced and sign posted with warning signs. This would seem to now be deemed as best practice and an industry accepted standard.

As a dairy farmer, what are your thoughts?

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