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ACC: Cold weather can add to farm hazards

18 August 2011

Snow and extreme weather conditions are coinciding with lambing for sheep farmers have highlighted the need to keep safe on the farm this winter.

A farmer or agricultural worker is injured almost every half hour in New Zealand, and the risks are worse in bad weather.

You're more likely to lose control of tractors and quad bikes in extreme weather conditions, and even the risk of a bad fall is greatly increased, said ACC Manager of Injury Prevention, Peter Wood.

Being cold and wet, and tired from working long hours add up to an accident waiting to happen.

Remember that in cold weather you can suffer from fatigue doing something that in normal weather is not a problem. So ensure you have enough food to maintain your energy levels and wrap up warm, said Mr Wood.

South Island farmers are experiencing particularly deep snow and cold temperatures. About 122 farmers were injured every week last year in the South Island while they were at work.

Handling animals, riding quad bikes and using farm machinery are the more common tasks that lead to accidents and injuries.

In sleet and snow, cattle get distressed and are often more difficult to handle, particularly if their coats are wet and they lose the ability to insulate. They need shelter and more feed to offset the heat loss and understandably this can cause cattle to become more aggressive. This means cattle handlers need to be extra vigilant and patient.

It's also important to choose the most suitable vehicle for the job. Think about where you need to go and be particularly careful if riding quads around hilly terrain in snow and ice avoid doing this if you possibly can.

The accidents that happen on farms are often serious, and can end a farmers days on the land and his ability to support his family, said Peter Wood. And the tragic thing is that most of these injuries are easily preventable.

Farmers can find tips on keeping safe in ACC's animal handling brochure "No-bull tips for animal handling" or in ACC's booklets on tractor and quad bike safety.

These are available to download at www.acc.co.nz/rural


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