Richard Loe's near disaster almost cost him the show's launch

Keeping safe on the farm will be a regular topic on Rural Exchange, RadioLive's new show made especially for the business backbone of New Zealand with hosts Hamish McKay, Richard Loe and Sarah Perriam.

There was a possibility that the former tight end-prop never made it to the first show, following a serious accident on his Waimakariri farm.

Being a WorkSafe 'Safer Farms' ambassador, Loey makes a point of being cautious when working on the farm, but this particular incident took him by surprise.

On the eve of leaving for a Hawaiian holiday with his wife, Shane, Loey was doing some last minute jobs which included off-loading a pod of milk into 200 litre drums. The pod suddenly came off the front-end loader, and while he thought he was standing at a safe distance, Loey was near enough for it to glance him and propel him into the plastic drums.

Speaking to his REX co-hosts on Saturday, Loey said he "suffered a reasonably good head-gash."

Hamish replied with "Reasonable! Apparently your lid was flapping - like when you open a can of baked beans. But in typical Loey fashion, you dealt with it in a reasonably stoic way."

While he wasn’t aware of the full extent of the damage, Richard knew enough to act quickly, and he jumped on the bike, then into the car, with Shane rushing him to Christchurch to be stitched up immediately.

Loey soberly reminded everyone that "you can take all precautions on the farm...but sometimes these things just do happen."

Hamish asked: "So you're recovering alright..you're not going to go walkabout on us halfway during the show?” Loey confirmed he’s had the all clear: “No delayed concussion, no."

To celebrate the fact they had their co-host in the studio to help launch the new radio show, Sarah presented him with his own Caltex 'Loey' figure released prior to 1995's Rugby World Cup - with a slight adjustment to reflect the accident.

Richard takes his role as an ambassador for WorkSafe 'Safer Farms' seriously. It was important for him to work through what happened, identify the risks, and share the information.

Loey's message about safety on the farm:

I’m a WorkSafe ambassador and so I am always conscious of being safe when I'm working on the farm...and look what happened to me.

I know that the majority of fatalities happen in or around vehicles and I was incredibly lucky that I wasn't crushed, or cut an artery. I could have become a statistic and this has been a huge wake up call for me.

I hope people may look at what happened to me and think about what the risks are to them. We’ve all suspended the pod like that dozens of times – the lesson here is that doesn’t matter – the risk is there each time, and it might catch you out.

RICHARD LOE'S 'KEEP IN MIND AND KEEP SAFE'

  • A front heavy tractor has risk.
  • Toppling – weight has to be within limits and it definitely was.
  • Different driving characteristics – need to be aware of changed CoG of tractor – there’s good FMG information on this and I had taken this into account.
  • A suspended load has risk.
  • Swinging – drove at low speed (which these days is the standard Loe speed) with the weight down low.
  • Falling.
  • Strops break – I had replaced the strops.
  • Strop slips off forks – whoops didn’t think this one all the way through though. Usually what you do is tilt the forks up.
  • I had allowed for everything except that it looks like the strop slipped off the forks – and I was too near (not underneath).

So, with hindsight, what can I do differently?

  • I need to keep outside a possible fall area when it is raised.
  • The load needs to be secured so it can’t fall. We could do that by securing the strops back to the head of the forks with a ratchet strop.  I’ve tried this and it works well.
  • It would be better if it wasn’t suspended, but sat on the forks and was secured back to the head of the forks.
  • It’s a matter of getting the bale forks under the pod.
  • I am looking for a large pallet or something similar that will cope with the width of the bale forks then I can put the pod on the pallet and secure it back to the head of the forks.  
  • Not only safer, but when I get it rigged up, it will be easier to use.

Saferfarms.org.nz is a dedicated website for farmers to get clear health and safety advice and information.

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