Topics explained – Agriculture – Vineyards & Wine

Around 80% of Australia’s premium wine is produced in South Australia by over 700 wineries. In 2017-18, South Australia’s wine industry generated more than $2.15 billion in revenue (Primary Industries and Regions SA).

Together with the grape growing and wine manufacturing sector, we aim to achieve a reduction in workplace injuries by working with industry to provide specific information and support to address common safety issues.

Health and safety risks

Common areas of concern faced by workers in vineyards and wineries include:

  • operating equipment on hillsides and uneven terrain
  • pushing and lifting heavy bins, tubs, barrels, pumps, hoses, and mixers
  • using pruning shears and picking knives
  • using hand tools
  • working with hazardous chemicals
  • entering wine tanks
  • biting insects
  • working some distance from immediate help
  • working at night and in extreme weather conditions.

Wine tanks

Wine tanks are often filled with inert gases, such as carbon dioxide, that act as an oxygen barrier to prevent wine oxidation. Even though the gas is inert, in high concentrations it will cause asphyxiation.

When working with wine tanks:

  • provide workers with appropriate information, training and instruction on the hazards associated with their operation
  • conduct a risk assessment, identify hazards and implement control measures for the operation and entering of wine tanks
  • develop safe work procedures for tasks associated with accessing or working on or in wine tanks
  • display appropriate information and warning signs.

Wine tanks and other storage tanks are classified as confined spaces. PCBUs must not direct a worker to enter a confined space to carry out work unless a confined space entry permit is issued for the work.

Simple steps to safety

Our easy-to-use work health and safety tool Simple Steps supports PCBUs with onsite self-assessment and management of hazards. Our Farmers’ Guidebook to work health and safety provides additional practical information to prevent injuries.

Vineyard owners and managers need to be prepared for working long hours under pressure, often with the support of contractors and visa workers. Owners and managers must ensure emergency plans are in place and that everyone who enters the workplace is aware of the procedure and what to do.

Workers on vineyards are exposed to many different health and safety risks so it is important to consult when preparing programs to reduce these risks.

Further information