15 Nov 2014

Farm sector singled out by WorkSafe

4:27 pm on 15 November 2014

The agricultural sector is being targeted by WorkSafe New Zealand over its high accident rates.

farm worker on tractor

In 2013, there were 20 deaths from workplace accidents in agriculture in New Zealand. Photo: PHOTO NZ

In its briefing to its new Minister Michael Woodhouse, WorkSafe said agriculture was one of the worst industries in terms of health and safety.

The report said in 2013, there were 20 deaths from workplace accidents in agriculture - more than the forestry, construction, and manufacturing sectors combined.

Half of those deaths were from quad-bike or tractor accidents.

WorkSafe said there was a poor understanding of risk in the industry and it will be launching a targeted initiative next year to address the issues.

But a farm safety consultant said there could not be a blanket approach to tackling the high number of accidents in the agricultural sector.

The director of the group Farmers for Farm Safety, Darcy Palmer, said it was a varied industry with a range of risk factors.

"The risk factor on individual farms is different because you have cropping, dairying, high country - there are so many things that set apart the different agricultural components and industries."

Mr Palmer said farmers understood the risks involved but workers with no agricultural background did not.

Federated Farmers' Health and Safety spokesperson Katie Milne said a cultural change was needed.

"We all want to get home to our families at night so we've got to figure out how we can tackle it to make a meaningful difference and not just go out and fine people and regulate people to try and achieve that result."

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