The stark warning all farmers need to hear

"The best way to avoid an accident is to use common sense."
"The best way to avoid an accident is to use common sense." Photo credit: Getty

Farmers are being warned not to get complacent after a spate of tractor deaths recently.

An investigation was launched last week after workplace death involving a tractor in Whanganui, while in the same week another fatalities occurred on a farm in Bay of Plenty.

Tony Watson, general manager of Safer Farms, says vehicles are involved in 90 percent of all fatalities on farms, with one in six deaths linked to a tractor.

"These machines are big and they're heavy and they're very unforgiving if they land on you," Watson told Magic Talk's Rural Today.

He says although there has been a recent spike in tractor-related deaths, sadly it was "not completely out of the blue" statistically.

And despite incidents occurring too often, Watson says most deaths are preventable.

"We've really got to take the approach that there is the potential for things to go wrong so we need to put in place a few steps to make sure we don't become one of the stats ourselves."

With a lot of feeding taking place on farms at this time of year and challenging conditions in many parts of the country, the risk is higher than average at the moment, he said.

"A dry autumn in many places has really pushed feed supply into funny places on the farm. Farmers have stock in paddocks they might not normally have them in at this time of the year because that's where a bit of feed is - and they're feeding out in areas that maybe are a little bit sloppier or slipperier."

Although 99 percent of the time things go to plan, it's the 1 percent that farmers needed to be aware of.

"And with ground conditions having gone from very dry to, in some cases, really pretty wet in certain parts of the country take extra precaution," Watson said. "Don't let it be that one day when things don't go right and we've got a problem."

The majority of deaths involve a farmer over the age of 50 and happen later in the day, he said.

"The statistics show somebody is going to die. Chances are they'll be over 50, chances are it will be after 3 o'clock in the afternoon, chances are there will be a tractor involved."

Watson says the best way to avoid an accident was to use common sense and ask yourself a few simple questions.

"Ask yourself what could go wrong. Have a quick scan and think about it.

"That might be, I'm hopping on the tractor and I've just hooked up a hay trailer or wagon or something and I'm about to head into a slippery sort of a paddock - well obviously some things could go wrong. So I've got to think what could go wrong, what am I doing about it and is that enough?"

And though it may seem simple, Watson says such common sense is often overlooked - with deadly consequences.

"Through a bit of complacency, a bit of fatigue or distraction unfortunately it's easy not to do these things.

"So let's just improve the odds for ourselves by taking those few simple little steps."