Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Workers in focus

Modified on Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 01:45 PM

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing employs approximately 318,800 persons (ABS trend data), which accounts for 2.5 per cent of the total workforce. Over the past five years, employment in the industry has increased by 0.3 per cent. The median age for workers in this industry is 49 years and median weekly earnings are around $1,038 per week.

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries to work in due to the combination of hazards. These include plant, chemicals, noise, dust, sun exposure, working with animals as well as the fact many in the industry work alone or in remote locations. Learn more at the Safe Work Australia website here.

  • More than one in five workers who died at work worked in agriculture. It has the highest fatality rate of any Australian industry (14.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers).
  • Agricultural vehicles, for example tractors and quad bikes, accounted for 82 out of 221 (37%) worker deaths.

Industry Snapshot

  • The sector has the highest proportion of self-employed workers (46%) of any industry.
  • It employs a higher proportion of older workers than any other industry (16% are aged 65 and over).
  • There are many hazards on farms that are less common in other workplaces, such as: 
    • augers, tractors, motorbikes and quad bikes
    • chemicals—pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers
    • animals
    • extreme weather conditions.

  • Farm workers often work alone: 
    • lifting heavy loads or operating machinery by themselves
    • have fewer opportunities for sharing practices, observing and learning from others
    • help or first aid isn’t always nearby if an incident occurs
    • farms may be remote, without mobile phone coverage.

View the Agriculture: Priority industry snapshot for an overview of the industry and its WHS performance.

Fatalities in agriculture

Vehicles account for over 75% of workplace deaths and are often caused by:

  • tractors
  • aircraft
  • quad bikes.

Other common causes of worker fatalities include:

  • being struck by an animal (usually cattle)
  • falling from a horse
  • accidental shooting.

Types and causes of injury

The most common types of injury are traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries, followed by wounds, lacerations, amputations and internal organ damage, and fractures.

The most common causes of injury are body stressing, being hit by moving objects and falls, trips and slips.

Animals are involved in around 20% of serious injuries.

Employment Characteristics


Employment Level - November 2019 ('000)


Employment Growth - Five years to November 2019 ('000)


Employment Growth - Five Years to November 2019 (%)


Male Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Female Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Full Time Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Average Full Time Hours - November 2019


Median Weekly Earnings in Main Job - August 2019 ($)


Projected Employment Growth - Five Years to May 2024 ('000)


Projected Employment Growth - Five Years to May 2024 (%)


Sources: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003, trend. Average full time hours data is Department of Education, Skills and Employment trend; Earnings data are ABS, Characteristics of Employment Cat. No. 6333.0, August 2019; Department of Education, Skills and Employment, 2019 employment projections, five years to May 2024.

Source: Four quarter average and custom data based on ABS Labour Force, Australia, Cat no: 6291.0.55.003.

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