Looking ahead to a safe summer on farm

Looking ahead to a safe summer on farm

22 October 2018

Although summer is approaching, sowing winter feed crops and silage harvesting will be on some farmers’ minds.

"That means using heavy machinery – and vehicles and machinery are the main cause of accidents on farms," says Al McCone, agricultural sector lead for WorkSafe.

Over the past 17 years, 80 percent of fatal accidents on farms have involved vehicles or machinery. Sadly, in the past three years this figure has risen closer to 90 percent. Vehicle accidents are also the leading cause of agriculture accidents that require more than a week off work.

Between 2012 and 2016, there were 60 cases of people trapped in moving machinery or equipment, 146 trapped between moving and stationary objects and 494 struck by moving objects.

"Anyone using vehicles or machinery must be fully trained and supervised until they are sufficiently competent," says McCone.

"However, experienced people have accidents too and the most frequent victims of fatal accidents on farms are people aged 55 to 60."

There are two main causes of fatalities involving tractors. The first is where the driver or another person is hit by the vehicle because it was not properly halted and braked. The second is when the tractor rolls and the driver is not restrained.

"Preventing the majority of tractor-related fatalities is very simple. Use the handbrake properly and wear your seatbelt." McCone says choosing the right vehicle for the job is a critical factor in farm safety.

"Using a quad bike (ATV) to tow light loads is part and parcel of the job for many. But you should always ensure the combined total weight does not exceed the manufacturer’s weight or towing specifications.

"If you own two different types of quad bike, check the weight specifications because they may differ – and make sure everyone using those vehicles knows and abides by those limits."

It’s important to consider the terrain too. Check the owner’s manual to determine both the maximum safe tow weight and the extent to which terrain reduces that safe weight. "Take a few minutes to think about the best vehicle for the job, and whether another vehicle, like a tractor, would be the safer option."

"Don’t be tempted to push the boundaries with weight, even for short jobs, or if you are in a hurry."

"The peak times for fatal accidents on farms are 8am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm, which suggests tiredness or rushing to finish jobs can be contributing factors."

For more information on managing these and other risks visit worksafe.govt.nz

Article supplied by Worksafe