18 May 2023

Five farm deaths in first 3 months of the year

6:34 am on 18 May 2023
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Fourteen people died on farms in the year to January. Photo: 123rf.com

The largest vehicle training provider in Waikato is calling for a better health and safety culture on-farm, as agriculture faces some of the highest work-related deaths by industry.

WorkSafe data showed to the end of March there had already been five deaths and 30 injuries.

Fourteen people died on farms in the year to January.

Andre Syben, owner of health and safety programme AgDrive, said one death was too many.

"The really disturbing thing is these statistics, every year it's the same. There's around 10 to 12 people killed on farm vehicles every year, for the past 15 years. What have we learned from these deaths?

"We need to keep our people safe. We need to tell people thinking of getting into farming that it's a safe industry to get involved in."

Syben said there should be more government subsidies or corporate budgets for health and safety courses.

"Government needs to be involved in this through ACC and WorkSafe, certainly. But I don't want to see farmers being asked to front up with more money - they're under enough pressure at the moment. We all have to do something about this.

"It's not just the government, it's everyone who's involved in the food supply chain and agriculture - the large corporates - we all have to do something about it."

Syben said vehicle importers did not support installing crush protection devices on quad bikes, even with ACC subsidies, like they did in Australia.

However, the most common accident type in fatalities involved vehicles.

He said workers needed to come home safe.

"It's not just about vehicle safety, it's about the culture. One of the things we say to people is, if you think you shouldn't be there, you're probably right. Trust your intuition, trust your gut feeling. If in doubt, stop, think and assess the situation you're in and take some time."

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