After years of unacceptable delays, the Andrews Labor Government has again stepped back from the development of a specific course for farmers to operate a telehandler, saying that developing a specific course is now only ‘under consideration’.
The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy and the Victorian Farmers Federation have been calling on the Minister for Workplace Safety for three years to direct WorkSafe to work with industry to develop a one-day telehandler course for farmers, as exists in other states.
Ms Kealy said that there needed to be a commonsense approach with licence requirements reflecting how telehandlers are used on farms.
“Telehandlers are becoming the preferred method for safely moving hay and shifting grain, however regulation in Victoria is not keeping up with how they are being used by farmers in their day-to-day operation,” she said.
“While we all support the need for training to ensure telehandlers are being used safely, it is imperative that any mandated training is relevant for the type of plant being operated, which is simply not the case with the current licence requirements.
“I have raised this matter in Parliament on numerous occasions, with the Minister for Workplace Safety advising that WorkSafe were consulting with industry to develop a specific one-day course to allow farmers to gain a statement of competency to operate a telehandler.
“But it appears this commitment is now history and it is being put in the too-hard basket.”
Victoria is the only state where people operating a telehandler weighing more than three tonnes are required to obtain both a dogger and crane licence, at a cost of $3000, with many farmers labelling the courses irrelevant as they do not focus on farm specific work.
Requirements were increased in May last year with the licence no longer able to be completed using a telehandler, with a non-slewing crane of at least a 12-tonne capacity required.
Costs for farmers to complete the training have also risen, with participants required to spend eight days in Melbourne, away from their farms, to attend the courses.
“The current training course is completely irrelevant for farm use of telehandlers and given the rate of deaths on farms it is essential that a specific training course is developed as soon as possible,” Ms Kealy said.
“These onerous and expensive training requirements are forcing some farmers to buy smaller machines, which are not as safe, so they don’t have to get a licence.
“Other states have been able to implement it – why is Victoria being left behind yet again?
“The minister cannot walk away from this requirement and needs to act now to ensure the safety of our farmers does not continue to be put at risk.”