Summer safety warning for farmers

Farmers are being warned to take care over summer, with figures showing this time of year is hazardous for accidents on farms.

ACC figures show almost 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 the data.

"The summer is a hugely productive time for farmers, and a time when family and visitors are often on the farm too," said WorkSafe agricultural lead Al McCone.

However he said statistics show that it is also a busy time for accidents, including the most serious. 

"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.

"We are encouraging farmers to focus on reducing the critical risk of working in and around farm vehicles."

He said operator protective devices, like roll over protection and the use of seat belts in vehicles are key areas farmers can reduce the likelihood of an accident. 

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

Rural Exchange host Richard Loe is a Safe Farms ambassador.
Rural Exchange host Richard Loe is a Safe Farms ambassador. Photo credit: Newshub

Meanwhile sun exposure is also seen as a major summer health and safety hazard for those working in the sector. 

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 has changed his behaviours around sun safety and is urging other farmers to follow suit.

"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," he 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."

He also advises farmers that jobs which can be done in shade or under cover, should be planned for the middle of the day, when the sun's UV levels are higher.