2010-07-21

The ‘farm toll’ is reducing, argues farmers

The ‘farm toll’ is reducing, argues farmers

Federated Farmers has responded to the Wellington Coroner by pointing out a 23 percent reduction in the ‘farm toll’ between 2006 and 2009.

“Everyone in agriculture is sincere in sharing the grief that the Santos family must feel following yesterday’s Inquest,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“Yet I must point out the Coroner’s comments don't reflect 2010, but 2008. Federated Farmers, with the Agriculture Safety Council, ACC and the Department of Labour, have taken on-board Coronial recommendations to promote all aspects of farm safety, not just All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs or quad bikes).

“This explains why the farm toll in 2009 was 13 while in 2006, 17 people died in farm related accidents. While the farm toll’s reduction is not as fast as we’d all like, we are seeing a positive downwards trend in recent years

“I personally think there’s been a welcome change in farm culture that on-farm safety is paramount. Yet perspective on the farm toll is also needed. Statistically, 99 people died by drowning in 2009 while the road toll last year stood at 393.

“With regards to ATVs, farmers are legally required to ensure employees who operate them are appropriately trained in their use. The Federation further endorses and promotes ACC’s guides on ATV use, the use of helmets and also promotes minimum age limits.

“Yet last November, ACC tellingly reported that of the 400 claims made for ATVs, half were related to recreational use, 150 were farm-related and 50 happened on the road. There is an estimated 70,000 ATVs in New Zealand too.

“Yet this prosecution sadly rams home why training and education is so important. This tragedy has seen the company involved change its procedures for the better and the case has been well publicised - ensuring other companies do take notice.

“While on-farm we've got the message, it’s falling on deaf ears recreationally and agriculture gets lumbered with the raw statistics because ATVs, are classed as agricultural vehicles.

“The shame is, that the Coroner hasn't discussed his ideas with Federated Farmers because things like roll-over protection structures increase the risk of crush injury in a farm setting.

“This is why the proposed changes to ACC are important. It will reward good safety and punish the poor and like the Minister, Federated Farmers believes it will save lives,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

Federated Farmers Fact Sheets on ATV use can be obtained by calling 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646). The Agricultural Health and Safety Council’s guidelines for the safe use of ATVs can be found here while ACC’s guidance publications can be found here.

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