Dam safety under the spotlight

The Victorian Government is warning farmers and earthmoving contractors to be safe around dams following two serious incidents in April 2019, including a fatality.

Victoria has around 450,000 dams, many of which are on farms and private properties and have been significantly impacted by a lack of rainfall in 2019.

The soil around dry dams can be prone to collapse, particularly when digging or using machinery.

Tragically a man in his 20s died in April 2019 when he became buried at the base of a dry dam at a property in East Gippsland. It’s believed he was excavating a trench at the base of the dam when it collapsed on him.

In another incident a farmer in his 70s was injured after his tractor rolled while he was working on a dam at Mt Moriac on Saturday (April 27 2019).

To reduce the risks associated with working around dry dams, farmers and contractors should:

  • Inspect the environment and identify unstable ground before commencing work
  • Only use equipment they are competent with and only use it within its operating range
  • Avoid driving machinery over slopes and embankments to reduce the risk of a roll over
  • Ensure a hard stand area for excavators is stable and not undermined by vermin
  • Seek assistance when recovering bogged equipment and/or animals
  • Ensure they have access to a means of communication, either a phone or radio
  • Avoid working alone, and have others check in on them.

Dry dams are as dangerous as trenches and the risk of collapse must be considered when they are being dug out.

Source: Vic Government