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5 June, 2019

Farm safety plea comes from the heart

FARM safety was one of the three core themes at the 2019 Rotary FNQ Field Days, and it is an issue that is of particular significance to local farmer Joe Moro and former rugby league legend Shane Webcke. FULL STORY BELOW

By Rhys Thomas

FARM safety was one of the three core themes of the 2019 Rotary FNQ Field Days, and it is an issue that hits close to home for this year’s event’s special guest Shane Webcke and Rotary FNQ Field Days Health and Safety Officer Joe Moro.

The theme is of particular relevance to Mr Webcke and Mr Moro as they share an unfortunate tragedy, having both lost their fathers to a workplace accident when they were young.

Mr Moro was just 11 years of age when his father died in a tractor accident whilst working on his tobacco farm in Biboohra in Far North Queensland.

Mr Moro spoke open and honestly about the impact his loss had on his family and his mother in particular.

“My dad died after falling off a tractor which then ran over him,” he said.

“He bled to death in the middle of the paddock by himself.

“The impact my father’s death had on our family was huge – I don’t believe my mother has ever recovered from the loss of her husband.”

Mr Moro said he felt now was the right time to implement farm safety as one of the themes at this year’s Field Days given the number of injuries and deaths that have occurred in rural communities in recent times.

“As many of us know, an elderly man lost his life in a tractor accident in this region recently, and ultimately it doesn’t matter how it happened, what matters is that one fatality is one too many,” he said.

“And for myself personally, whether on a farm or not, workplace safety is something I’m very passionate about and I don’t appreciate people who joke about it or take it lightly.

“Because the consequences are very serious, and there are plenty of people who know them firsthand as they’ve been told about something terrible that has happened to one of their loved ones.”

Mr Moro noted his appreciation for Shane Webcke making an appearance at Field Days and delivering such a powerful message.

“I would love to say thank you to Shane on behalf of the Rotary FNQ Field Days team; I think any person who has the passion he does about farm safety and articulates it in the manner he does should be commended,” he said.

“He is driving such a strong message, and if there’s one family who doesn’t have to go through the trauma Shane and I’s family did because of initiatives like we’re doing at Field Days, then that is fantastic.”

Mr Webcke takes a similarly candid approach when speaking on safety, as he will often paint a graphic picture regarding his father’s death in an attempt to bolster his message.

Mr Webcke was 17 when his father died in a workplace accident after a wool press he was using experienced a failure.

“I want people to get a sense of the horrific nature of a workplace accident,” he said.

“I then want them to lock that inside and vow and declare that when they go into their workplace, they will say to themselves, “I’m not dying today and I will not change my family’s life today”.

“And I implore people to do that because my family and I went through a similar thing to Joe; and we have never recovered.

“We don’t cry ourselves to sleep every night, but there is a hole in our existence that can’t be filled and it never will be, so all I want to do is impress upon people the gravity of the risk that you take and what it means to the people who really pay the price, your family.”

Mr Webcke noted that he would like to applaud the Rotary FNQ Field Days for placing such an emphasis on farm safety.

“What better way to shine a light on such a pertinent issue than at Field Days,” he said.

“It’s a gathering of people from rural communities and the agricultural industry where everything they love is on display, and it provides us with an opportunity to also remind them of the people they love and the ramifications if they don’t take safety with the seriousness it deserves.

“It’s a perfect fit.”

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