4 Aug 2015

Dairy farm accidents spike during calving

3:05 pm on 4 August 2015

ACC figures show the number of accidents on dairy farms increases in late winter and early spring.

Dairy farm at Apiti, Manawatu.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Since 2008, ACC has received more than 900 severe injury claims from people working on dairy farms in August - and about 7520 in total.

That compares to 496 severe claims in July and 834 in September, in the same time period.

Health and safety regulator WorkSafe reminded dairy farmers of the risks around animals and farm vehicles in late winter and early spring, when many people were working long hours during calving.

WorkSafe agricultural programme manager Al McCone said farmers needed to look after their own health and ensure staff know how to deal with cows around calving.

He said the most common injuries were as a result of lifting and carrying heavy objects, or being kicked, stood on or bitten by an animal.

"We're talking about a whole range of injuries, but the main injuries tend to be back injuries.

"The fact is that people are working very long hours, it's cold and it's wet and it's often dark when people are working and - on top of that - if you're cool, then you need to warm your muscles up before you do things...

"People just need to remember to stretch and warm a little bit before they start lifting things."

Mr McCone said, over the years, the figures showed a consistent picture and the number of accidents was not falling.

"Most farmers understand that it is a part of the year that is very busy," he said.

"What we tried to do was say, let's put some facts around that, yes it's busy, yes, people are getting injured, but what sort of injuries are they? And what can people do about them?

"So in January and during peak milk - November through to the end of January, the middle of February - there are probably around 700-800 injuries reported to doctors that are dairy workplace injuries each month.

"As you go further through the year, in June it's down to about 500 a month and between June and August it increases again to around 1000 a month."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs