Fatalities in the Southern agriculture sector are at a five-year low, with only one reported fatality for 2016.
WorkSafe sector leader for Agriculture Al McCone said Southern farmers were continuing to make good decisions around health and safety, with a continuing decline in injuries which required more than seven days off work.
This drop means injured agriculture workers in the South are spending less time off work with injury.“Peak times for on-farm injuries in the dairy sector were in August, September, October and November. For sheep and beef farmers, peak times for injuries were January, March and October/November.”
Last year there was one agricultural sector death in Otago and Southland, which was a bulldozer incident, Mr McCone said. There were two in 2015, which were both tractor-related, and six in 2014, he said.
Five of the combined total of fatalities were tractor-related, he said.
When it came to injuries recorded by WorkSafe, statistics for 2016 were expected to be finalised towards the middle of this year. “It’s possible [with] last year’s publicity around the new Health and Safety at Work Act, people became more aware of their responsibility to report notifiable incidents, [which] may have resulted in more notifications. As time goes on, we will get a better picture of whether there is a downward trend in these serious types of harm.”
Beef and Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said she had run 26 health and safety workshops in the Southern district, which had been attended by more than 900 farmers. In the beginning, farmers’ attitudes towards the changes to health and safety regulations had been very hostile but in the past six months attitudes had changed, she said. “They realised how important health and safety was on farm and that it wasn’t as hard as they thought it was going to be and it was in everyone’s best interest.”
Before the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 came into effect last year, farmers did acknowledge health and safety on farm but a lot did not have a written plan, Miss Ross said.
“Now it’s being shared throughout the business, strengthening the business and relationships on farm.”
BLNZ had one more health and safety workshop scheduled for the southern district in Clinton on March 8. However, if there was demand for more workshops, Miss Ross would be taking a waiting list until there was enough to hold one, she said.