Why nearly all agricultural fatalities involve farming vehicles

Rural Exchange 05/05/2018

Farm vehicles like quad bikes and tractors account for nearly 90 percent of all agricultural workplace deaths, with five fatalities in 2016 attributed to quad bike accidents.

WorkSafe NZ wants to dramatically reduce such a statistic.

Jo Pugh, deputy general manager of assessments for WorkSafe, told Rural Exchange that there are several key factors that play into accidents around farm vehicles and machinery.

The Crown agency is launching a new initiative to help educate farmers on why farm accidents occur.

The focus on compliance rather than actual safety is a huge problem, explained Ms Pugh.

The machine itself doesn’t hurt anybody – it’s how we interact with it.

“There’s so much focus on health and safety in the paperwork, all those documented systems in place, folders up in their shelves getting dusty every single day – rather than thinking practically about what we do and how to keep everyone safe while they do it,” she said.

Ms Pugh pointed out that farms often use quad bikes “outside their capabilities” and use the vehicle for an incorrect purpose.

“We’re overloading them, we’re taking them up on the slopes, and we’re not training people on how to operate them properly.”

With tractors, Ms Pugh said farmers aren’t wearing seatbelts and taking the vehicles up steep slopes.

“The machine itself doesn’t hurt anybody – it’s how we interact with it,” she told Rural Exchange.

Co-host Richard Loe and Ms Pugh agreed that farmers with more experience are going to become more confident, which leads to dangerous behaviour like riding a quad side-saddle style.

“A lot of farmers out there are not recognising the risks that they’re taking, and they are not taking appropriate actions.”

Watch the full interview with Jo Pugh above.

This content was sponsored by our friends at WorkSafe

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