Seasonal changes pose risks for farmers

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MIL OSI – Source: WorkSafe New Zealand – Seasonal changes pose risks for farmers

The recent cold snap is a timely reminder for farmers that we are heading into a high-risk period for vehicle and machinery-related injuries.

Snow, sleet and rain over the past few days have created challenging conditions for rural workers just as autumn begins.

WorkSafe Agriculture Manger Al McCone says autumn sees lots of clean-up activity and farmers doing jobs that have been put off – just as conditions get worse.

“The weather is getting colder and wetter while farmers’ get to the tasks that they don’t frequently do. It’s a timely reminder for farmers to think about the risks associated with those changes, with more jobs to do while the days get shorter,” McCone says.

This period sees an increased use of farm vehicles and machinery. While quad-bikes are commonly associated with farm vehicle incidents, tractors and other machinery are also involved in a large number of injuries and deaths.

“The stark fact is that nearly four out of five work-related deaths in agriculture happen as a result of machine or vehicle-related incidents.

“A total of 10,000 people suffered vehicle/machinery-related injuries on farms in the last six years – this resulted in ACC claims of $60 million,” McCone says.

Incidents can range from slips and falls to serious injury or loss of life, for instance crushing when a tractor rolls, being struck by a mobile plant or front loaders, or being caught in equipment such as an uncovered power take-off shaft.

McCone says before beginning any job, stop and consider what you need to watch out for and how to complete it safely on that day, at that time – no matter how often you have done it before.

“Injuries often happen when people are doing routine tasks they have done many times, especially when they are under time pressure.

“That last job in the afternoon could turn out to be the last job – ever.

“Farmers make important farming decisions every day – the amount of fertiliser to use, choice of bull, where to move stock. The decisions involving which vehicle to use, the time you need to allocate to a task, or how to involve the kids are even more important. They are the ones that cost lives,” says Al McCone.

For more information on staying safe on your farm, go to www.saferfarms.org.nz

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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