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WorkSafe’s warning: Deadly time of the year

Vehicles continue to be the primary source of harm in on-farm deaths. PHOTOS/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

WorkSafe is reminding farmers to be mindful of risks on-farm this spring.

In 2020, deaths spiked during August and September.

According to Worksafe data, the last Wairarapa death in the agricultural sector was in October 2012 at a dairy cattle farm in South Wairarapa and involved a four-wheeled motorbike.

Vehicles continue to be the primary source of harm in on-farm deaths.

WorkSafe manager for regulatory practice Brent Austin strongly urged farmers to consider four key things as they headed into the busier months on the farm.

These included looking at how on-farm fatigue was managed, wearing seatbelts when available, installing crush protection on quad bikes, and never assuming new staff knew what they were doing around large animals.

“Provide necessary training until you are satisfied that they are competent.”

Almost half of vehicle-related deaths on-farm could be avoided if seatbelts were used, Austin said, and the impact of others could be lessened by crush protection.

“In many incidents, someone is crushed or unable to escape due to the weight of the bike, contributing to fatal or life-changing injuries.

“Workplace incidents don’t discriminate between those with experience and those without. Mistakes can be made by even the most experienced operators.

“We know the pressure is on farmers, particularly considering labour shortages and the need to employ inexperienced, younger or older people to fill the gap, but now is not the time to cut corners where safety may be compromised.

“Lastly, but vitally important, safety responsibility sits with everyone. Make sure everyone gets involved in sharing their concerns and ideas for making the farm a safer place.”

So far this year, five people had died on New Zealand farms in workplace incidents in Otago, Hawke’s Bay, and Manawatu-Whanganui.

There were 20 on-farm deaths counted by WorkSafe in 2020.

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