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Grim Harvest – summer campaign to save lives

Grim Harvest – summer campaign to save lives

Labour Minister Trevor Mallard is urging workers and their families to put safety first with the launch of the Grim Harvest awareness campaign targeting agriculture and forestry workers who are most at risk of dying on the job over summertime.

"Research shows that the summer months are always riskier for workers, so the Department of Labour is launching an awareness campaign – based around the Grim Reaper - to highlight the dangers and give workers tips for staying safe and alive.

"It is tragic that New Zealanders are dying during what is meant to be a festive season. The campaign involves direct mail, print and television advertising and will highlight simple steps to make sure all our loved ones come home from work alive this summer."

Research shows an increase every summer in workplace fatalities, with one third of the 45 deaths between June 2006 and May 2007 happening in December, January and February. Of the 15 workplace deaths over summer, five were farmers and seven of the accidents involved off-road vehicle use.

"There are simple things that can protect workers over summer," Trevor Mallard said.

"The summer months bring special challenges – it’s hotter, there are often fewer staff because other workers take leave, and the working day is often longer and harder – particularly on the farm.

"Employers need to make sure that workers have regular breaks and access to water to avoid dehydration. If workplaces are hot, staff should be encouraged to take their breaks outside."

The research shows that the combination of fatigue, dehydration and momentary lapses of concentration can lead to tragic consequences particularly when people are working with machinery.

The Grim Harvest campaign begins by targeting mainly farm and forestry workers, who are most at-risk during this time, but all workers can benefit from taking note of the risks highlighted in the campaign and the tips for staying safe and alive.

The research is at www.dol.govt.nz/publications/research/summerfatalities/index.asp
Copies of the print advertisement are available on request.

ENDS

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