25 Apr 2012

Plan launched to tackle injury rate on farms

10:21 am on 25 April 2012

The Government has launched its Agriculture Sector Action Plan aimed at reducing the high accident rate on farms.

It's one of five new plans targeting the most dangerous industries in New Zealand; the others are construction, manufacturing, forestry, and fishing.

At the launch at Parliament on Tuesday, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said it was unacceptable that a farmer is injured every half-hour, and that one farmer is killed on his or her property every month.

She said agriculture has one of the highest rates of workplace injury, disease and fatalities each year.

Ms Wilkinson said the plan includes steps to reduce harm from the use of quad bikes, provide training, reduce falls and provide suicide prevention support.

Farmer Emily Mott from Dannevirke, who was seriously injured in a quad bike crash several years ago, was at the launch.

The crash occurred six weeks after her wedding, and five years later she says her memory of events before the wedding still has not returned.

Ms Mott says she suffers from headaches and bouts of depression, and also lost her sense of taste and smell.

She says she owned a helmet but wasn't wearing it on the day of the accident.

Last year, ACC received 20,000 claims from the agricultural sector, costing $30 million.

The Department of Labour already has a campaign to stop the unsafe use of quad bikes on farms.

The department's central division general manager, Ona de Rooy, says inspectors are half way through visiting 400 hundred farms, some for the second time, to make sure farmers are adhering to the department's key safety demands, including wearing helmets.