Safe ideas sown at home

Safe ideas sown at home

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Adelaide-based safety consultant Alex Thomas has been pushing the message that on farm safety can be better driven simply by listening to your wife

Listening to your wife could save your life, or even those working with you on the farm.


Adelaide-based safety consultant Alex Thomas has been pushing that message with the hashtag #SaveALifeListenToYourWife.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Alex Thomas' #PlantASeedForSafety farm safety campaign calls on farmers to save a life by listening to their wives.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Alex Thomas' #PlantASeedForSafety farm safety campaign calls on farmers to save a life by listening to their wives.

After a whirlwind of field days, public speaking events and ‘sound-checking’ with industry, Ms Thomas’ campaign has entered its next phase – the profiling of more than 100 rural women from across the country in line with her #PlantASeedForSafety social media campaign to showcase how listening to your wife could save your life.

“This stage of the campaign focuses not only on celebrating the enormous contribution made by rural women; but on sharing their stories and spreading messages that have the capacity to save lives,” the 2018 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award South Australian winner said.

“Rural women offer a unique and necessary narrative; a different perspective on how to do the job. They’re experts in their businesses, their communities and their partners – and they’re in the perfect position to #PlantASeedForSafety.

“With Christmas only a few weeks away, remembering that nothing is so important it can’t wait until tomorrow. Slow down. Your family needs you. - ALEX THOMAS

“I want to shed a light on the heart of rural industries. To promote the sharing of ideas, to amplify what’s working well and to make work health and safety meaningful. To dispel the myth that ‘to comply with work health and safety legislation’ means ‘to have paperwork’.”

Ms Thomas wanted to make it cleat that #SaveALifeListenToYourWife is not about nagging but about recognising the contribution of rural women and the seat they have at the farm table.  

“Ninety-three per cent of work-related fatalities in rural industries are men. Rural women need our support to start a conversation for change.

“In light of the current season, the messages from rural women have been crystal clear. Rural men need to focus on slowing down, getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and family and – most importantly – having a laugh.

“With Christmas only a few weeks away, remembering that nothing is so important it can’t wait until tomorrow. Slow down. Your family needs you.

“To set a good example for the next generation, which includes ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to making safer choices, and not: ‘do as I say, not as I do’.”

She says her father told her taking the time to have a laugh with mates who were going through the same challenges helped him navigate drought in 1982 and the 1990s.

“Mum and Dad fought long and hard to preserve our livelihood, and the knock-on effect of drought, divorce and Dad’s work-related illnesses is the very reason why I’m here today,” she said.

“On the day of my national interview for the Rural Women’s Award, Dad said: ‘Darling, the best medicine I could ever receive is to see my children do well.’”

Ms Thomas said she was proud of where she came from and was committed to advocating for the work health, safety and well-being of those in rural industries.

“Safety research suggests that other industries are now having to ‘declutter’ their organisations of bureaucracy in order to achieve safer outcomes and foster a ‘culture of care’,” she said.

“Agriculture already has a culture of care, and a unique opportunity to circumnavigate this process and retain its authenticity.

“Farmers and fishers are practical people; and generations of industry knowledge on how to do something safely and efficiently hasn’t been passed down through safety paperwork, but through storytelling and hands-on experience. The current approach towards capacity building already works, we just need to amplify it.

“For those wanting to improve work health and safety in their workplace – I ask you to just start. Ask those around you what could go wrong, how it might go wrong and what could be done to prevent it, and then take action.

“If you strip away all the noise about paperwork, policies and penalties – farmers and fishers don’t recognise safety as ‘something different’ – it’s already embedded within their operations. To them, safety is merely just ‘business improvement’ – which is how it should stay.”

Ms Thomas repeats the line she has told thousands at the Field Days and farming events she speaks at – “No farmer or fisher wants to hurt themselves”.

“Amidst the emphasis on injury and fatality statistics, paperwork and penalties – that message gets lost,” she said. “People rarely take positive action on the basis of fear. We need to support rural industries to make practical, relevant and timely improvements.

“In agriculture, there’s an incredibly fine line between what is ‘work’ and what is ‘home’… so while it’s crucial that we strive for improvement, we need to work with what resonates – practical solutions; good conversation; support and encouragement; having a sense of humour.”

She said the sooner the safety profession and larger organisations in the supply chain understood a one-size approach to work health and safety did not fit all, the quicker there would be improved safety outcomes in agriculture. 

“The response to the campaign has been incredibly positive and I’m extremely thankful to all the rural men and women who have supported me and joined the #PlantASeedforSafety conversation to-date.”

Ms Thomas recently won the 2018 SafeWorkSA Augusta Zadow Award, which has injected an additional $20,000 in prizemoney into the #PlantASeedForSafety campaign. 

  • Details: To be a part of the #PlantASeedForSafety campaign and have your story showcased so more rural men are inclined to #SaveALife (and listen to their wife) visit or contact Alex at for more information.

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