The People in Dairy

Water and Effluent

Water and Effluent safety

Water and effluent are significant hazards on farms. On average, five children drown on Australian farms each year. Most are under the age of five and a third are visitors. 

Drownings of adults also occur especially when they are working with machinery near dams, ponds and channels or when maintaining infrastructure that is under or above water. 


Water use and effluent infrastructure can also present risks other than drowning such as:

- Slips, trips and falls especially in yards and on edges of ponds
  and channels                                                    
- Entanglement & manual handling injuries associated with pumps
  and agitators
- Falls from heights on travelling irrigators 
- Physical injury from pressure washers & flexible hydrants when
Water contact with exposed power in the dairy or overhead
  power by irrigators
Contact with harmful gases produced by effluent

 As an employer or person conducting a business on the farm, you have a legal responsibility to manage all the risks to health and safety associated with water and effluent.

By law, you are responsible for all the people who come to the farm, including workers, contractors, tenants, visitors and children.

Use the resources below to ensure that you are managing a safe workplace and fulfilling your legal obligations.


The Farm Safety Manual aims to make it straightforward for dairy farmers to build and improve a comprehensive farm safety system. 

Farm Safety Manual
Water and Effluent: Quick safety scan PDF
WEF: Step by step - Setting up water and effluent safety on your farm PDF
WEF: Safety self assessment PDF      
Child safe play areas (see Visitors, Children & Traffic)
Further information
Keep watch at the farm program (Royal Lifesaving)   
Wonder, Swim and Survive program (Royal Lifesaving)
Guide for managing risks from high pressure water jetting                        
(Safe Work Australia)

Establishing and understanding an effluent management plan
(Dairy Australia)
Effluent and manure management (Dairy Australia)
Building and operating a safe effluent system (Agriculture Victoria) Website
Dairy effluent pond safety (Dairy NZ)

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