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Put farm safety first this summer

Media release

23 January 2012

Put farm safety first this summer

The first occupational agricultural death in 2013 has the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Federated Farmers asking farmers to put safety first in 2013 to bring down the farm toll.

“Five people died doing agricultural work last summer,” says Ona de Rooy, the Ministry’s General Manager Health and Safety Operations.

“As summer is a busy time on the farm it is vital to make safety a top priority.”

“Long hours of work in the heat and sun can lead to fatigue, impair judgement and increase the likelihood of an accident taking place,” Ms de Rooy says.

The New Year is an ideal time to review health and safety practices and ensure workers and contractors understand the hazards around them.

“At this time of the year farms are a magnet for our urban relatives and friends,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health and Safety spokesperson.

“While it means we can share our rural lifestyle with them we must know where to draw the line. While it may cause disappointment, quad bikes, like tractors, are powerful farm machinery and only those physically able and trained should use them.”

“Would you give a young visitor the keys to your brand new ute?”

“Going over your farm hazards with visitors is also a great way to refresh your understanding of them. Working on-farm can breed complacency and we see this in the number of older and more experienced farmers injured in preventable accidents

“While we support the Ministry’s quad bike and safety messaging, we further recommend farmers working alone should carry either a radio telephone, a mobile phone, or if in an area of no coverage, a GPS-equipped Personal Locator Beacon,” Mrs Maxwell says.

Key safety steps in the Ministry’s Quad Bike Safety Project:
• Don’t let children under 16 years of age ride adult quad bikes
• Always wear a helmet
• Riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job
• Choose the right vehicle for the job.

While children riding quads is a serious concern, research shows that accident victims are predominantly older, experienced riders.

“Farmers often work alone and in isolated areas, so it’s important to understand the bike’s limitations and establish an expected return time with someone on the farm,” Ms de Rooy says.

“Everyone has a responsibility to improve safety on the farm. Look out for yourself, your workers, and your family on the farm this summer.”

[ends]

More information on quad bike safety is available on the Ministry’s website at www.dol.govt.nz/quad-bikes/index.asp

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