'Be safe' alert for summer

FARMERS have been urged to focus on critical risks to avoid joining the summer accident toll.

While summer is a busy time on the farm, it is also among the most hazardous periods for accidents.

Nearly 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018), while there were three fatalities on farms.

“Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to ACC data,” said WorkSafe’s agricultural lead Al McCone.

“The summer is a hugely productive time for farmers, and a time when family and visitors are often on the farm too.

“However, the statistics show that it is also a busy time for accidents, including the most serious,” Mr McCone said.

“Our research has shown that there is almost always a vehicle involved when someone dies as a result of a farm accident at this time of year.”

He said WorkSafe encouraged farmers to focus on reducing the critical risk of working in and around farm vehicles.

“That includes taking a few minutes to think about the best vehicle for the job you or your workers are doing and the terrain you are going to be driving over.

“It’s thinking about the locations of ditches, slopes or furrows. That might mean going back to the shed to switch vehicles, or going on foot.”

He said operator protective devices, like rollover protection and the use of seat belts in vehicles, were key areas where farmers could reduce the likelihood of an accident.

“Many tractor fatalities can be prevented by the driver wearing the seat belt.

“You should also always check around farm vehicles before reversing. That is especially important in summer with more children out and about on farms.”

Sun exposure was also a major summer health and safety hazard for those working in the sector, and while the initial impact of sunburn might be some discomfort, the long-term effects can be deadly, Mr McCone said.

New Zealand has the highest overall melanoma skin cancer rate in the world and past research has shown that one in four New Zealand farmers have suffered skin cancer.

Farmer, rugby legend and Safer Farms Ambassador Richard Loe said he had changed his behaviour around sun safety and urged other farmers to follow suit.

“Sun safety really is not onerous,” he said.

“It’s as simple as slipping on a shirt with long sleeves and wearing a hat with a wide brim or a cap with flaps. More people get sunburned on the face and neck than any other part of the body,” Mr Loe said.

“Slop on plenty of sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out, use at least SPF 30 and take the bottle with you and reapply every couple of hours — especially if you’ve been doing sweaty work.

“If you’ve got jobs you can do in shade or under cover, plan them for the middle of the day, when the sun’s UV levels are higher, and keep the exposed jobs for early or later.

“. . .and don’t forget to protect your eyes from UV radiation, with wrap-round sunglasses with a good sun protection rating.”

FARMERS have been urged to focus on critical risks to avoid joining the summer accident toll.

While summer is a busy time on the farm, it is also among the most hazardous periods for accidents.

Nearly 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018), while there were three fatalities on farms.

“Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to ACC data,” said WorkSafe’s agricultural lead Al McCone.

“The summer is a hugely productive time for farmers, and a time when family and visitors are often on the farm too.

“However, the statistics show that it is also a busy time for accidents, including the most serious,” Mr McCone said.

“Our research has shown that there is almost always a vehicle involved when someone dies as a result of a farm accident at this time of year.”

He said WorkSafe encouraged farmers to focus on reducing the critical risk of working in and around farm vehicles.

“That includes taking a few minutes to think about the best vehicle for the job you or your workers are doing and the terrain you are going to be driving over.

“It’s thinking about the locations of ditches, slopes or furrows. That might mean going back to the shed to switch vehicles, or going on foot.”

He said operator protective devices, like rollover protection and the use of seat belts in vehicles, were key areas where farmers could reduce the likelihood of an accident.

“Many tractor fatalities can be prevented by the driver wearing the seat belt.

“You should also always check around farm vehicles before reversing. That is especially important in summer with more children out and about on farms.”

Sun exposure was also a major summer health and safety hazard for those working in the sector, and while the initial impact of sunburn might be some discomfort, the long-term effects can be deadly, Mr McCone said.

New Zealand has the highest overall melanoma skin cancer rate in the world and past research has shown that one in four New Zealand farmers have suffered skin cancer.

Farmer, rugby legend and Safer Farms Ambassador Richard Loe said he had changed his behaviour around sun safety and urged other farmers to follow suit.

“Sun safety really is not onerous,” he said.

“It’s as simple as slipping on a shirt with long sleeves and wearing a hat with a wide brim or a cap with flaps. More people get sunburned on the face and neck than any other part of the body,” Mr Loe said.

“Slop on plenty of sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out, use at least SPF 30 and take the bottle with you and reapply every couple of hours — especially if you’ve been doing sweaty work.

“If you’ve got jobs you can do in shade or under cover, plan them for the middle of the day, when the sun’s UV levels are higher, and keep the exposed jobs for early or later.

“. . .and don’t forget to protect your eyes from UV radiation, with wrap-round sunglasses with a good sun protection rating.”

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