Two workplace deaths late last year involving tractors has prompted the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to remind farmers of the importance of keeping themselves safe.
In the last two months two farmers died while operating tractors in the South Island.
“Farm vehicles were involved in nearly three quarters of all agriculture deaths between 2003 and 2008,” says the Ministry’s Health and Safety Southern Area General Manager, Francois Barton.
“These two recent deaths, coupled with three others involving farm tractors in 2012, are a tragic reminder of the importance of keeping yourself safe,” he says.
“This is especially important in summer when farmers tend to work longer hours due to daylight saving and the hay making season.
“Before setting out in the tractor farmers should be checking the condition of the vehicle, and consider whether the tractor is the best vehicle for the job. If it is, it should be used within the operating guidelines.
“We strongly advise farmers to wear seatbelts while driving and operating tractors. If they’re operating an older vehicle, they should seriously consider fitting seatbelts and roll protection devices. Otherwise they are putting themselves at serious risk.”
As an employer, farmers have a responsibility to keep themselves and their workers safe.
“Farmers need to ensure their staff are trained and experienced in driving and operating tractors, before they are allowed to use the vehicle. Otherwise they can risk injury, or death,” says Mr Barton.
Agriculture safety is a focus for the Ministry. Last year it launched the Agriculture Sector Action Plan which sets out a range of actions for Government and the sector to work towards to reduce the high rate of fatalities and injuries.
The Action Plan includes initiatives for industry-run training and license initiatives for tractors.