21 Aug 2015

Farming sector 'needs to stand up' over safety

8:54 am on 21 August 2015

Labour Party leader Andrew Little is calling on the farming sector to improve workplace safety despite being largely excluded from new health and safety legislation.

Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

104 people have been killed in the sector since 2010, more than a third of all work-place fatalities in New Zealand over the same period.

Under new health and safety legislation, currently before Parliament, most farms will be exempt from having to designate a staff member as a health and safety representative.

Mr Little said the Government was not doing enough to protect the safety of farm workers.

He called on farmers to take the lead in improving farm safety.

"We actually need the farming community, responsible farmers, to stand up and say, 'we can do better, we will take responsibility, we don't want any exclusions and exceptions in the law and we will do what is right to improve New Zealand's health and safety record'.

"That responsibility sits as much with the farming community as it does with our political leaders."

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne said better farm safety would be achieved by analysing accident data held by Work Safe and ACC.

She hoped this would help to identify trends.

"For example, for six out of the last 10 people who went to hospital who were crushed by an animal (maybe) it happened between 11 and 12 o'clock.

"Then we could say, look guys, you obviously need to have a break somewhere in there, or you're looking past the job you're doing and thinking about your lunch break.

"Changing the culture comes from being able to point out to farmers where their highest risk is, not just that there are a lot of injuries because of quad bikes, but what is the factor behind it. That is the key to cracking the nut of this high injury and death rate that we've got."