10 Jan 2020

'Tragic start' to 2020: Six deaths on NZ farms in six days

2:19 pm on 10 January 2020

Six people have died in workplace incidents on New Zealand farms in six days this year.

The tractor harvester working on the field

Photo: 123RF

The latest death came today when one person died in a quad bike crash on a Wharepuhunga farm, south of Cambridge.

Another death earlier this week included a 67-year-old man who died when the tractor he was driving rolled down a bank at the Goldfields Mining Centre near Cromwell on Wednesday.

The centre closed most of its operations on Thursday as it awaited the arrival of WorkSafe investigators.

The other deaths also involved farm vehicles and are being investigated.

WorkSafe head of general inspectorate Jo Pugh said the deaths were preventable.

"It's been an absolute tragic start for us in New Zealand this year. The sad thing is this is the time of year when we are meant to be enjoying the summer."

As a nation, she said we were "very slow in our maturity towards risk assessment".

"We don't really think about the risks and don't think they will happen to us."

Pugh said the country needed to change the way it viewed health and safety.

It's seen as a "compliance issue or a payment issue".

"We need to move away from that. Health and safety is actually about caring about people and thinking wisely about the risks you might be facing and then putting steps in place to manage that," Pugh said.

There were many good practical things people could do to prevent injuries and death, she said.

"Make sure you use the right vehicle for the task. Install crush protection devices on quad bikes, make sure you wear your seatbelt and if you're on a quad or motorbike - wear a helmet - and never let children be in charge of an adult vehicle."

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