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Farmers mourn toddler’s death

Media Release

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15 January 2014

Farmers mourn toddler’s death

Federated Farmers extends its thoughts and prayers to the family of the toddler who tragically drowned at a Southland rural property on Tuesday evening. 

“Speaking as a father, this is a most unimaginable tragedy that will raise painful memories for those farming families who have lost children in similar circumstances,” says Russell MacPherson, Federated Farmers Southland provincial president.

“Speaking as a farmer, the reality is that our farms do contain multiple hazards.  These can be everything from farm dams to farm machinery to our livestock.  Trying to eliminate every hazard on a farm is a physical impossibility.

“Speaking as a parent I know the family will be going through hell.  Every fraction of every single second will be replayed over and over again. 

“This is just horrible for all involved and my hope in speaking about it is to show that it is a tragic accident in every sense of those two words.

“In response to a toddler downing in 2009, Federated Farmers’ Variable Order Sharemilking Agreement 2012 was amended with specific provisions to help keep children safe on-farm. 

“This means a farm house on a dairy property must have stock proof fences.  What’s more, there must also be safe place for children to be in when their parents are at work, for example, at the milking shed.

“It’s far easier to fence children into a home despite the fact that homes contain many hazards.  Fencing has the added advantage of defining the home from the workplace, or for that matter, the road or your driveway if you happen to be in-town.

“Depending on the time of year some water bodies can be temporary but when it comes to designing the farm dairy effluent pond, the Health and Safety in Employment Act means they ought to feature at least a five wire fence, with netting preferably and even a ‘hot wire’.

“Speaking as a farmer and a father, these recent deaths must serve as a wake-up call to all Kiwi families and not just the farming ones.  ACC’s Injury Statistics Tool tells me that in New Zealand last year [2012/13], 20 children under 14 tragically died in accidents inside a home.    

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they are for the three adult farmers who have died so far this year,” Mr MacPherson concluded.  

ENDS

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