24 Aug 2015

Govt urged to reconsider farm safety risk

9:46 am on 24 August 2015

A farm safety advisor is urging the Government to reconsider its decision to classify sheep, beef and dairy farming as low risk occupations.

Dairy cow north of Matamata.

In the past seven years more than 53,000 workers have been been injured on dairy farms. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Under the Government's Health and Safety Reform Bill, any workplace that falls into the high-risk category will be required to have a health and safety officer, but Workplace Safety Minster Michael Woodhouse has controversially classified sheep, beef and dairy farms as low risk.

That's despite his ministry saying those are the most dangerous industries within agriculture and that more people die in agriculture than any other industry.

Farmers for Farm Safety director D'Arcy Palmer said someone was killed every 18 days on a farm and it was nonsense to suggest agriculture was not high risk.

He said farming had changed dramatically in the last 15 years.

"And only recently I've been on quite a number of farms - dairy, high country and sheep, cattle and deer farms, and the interesting thing is, that a lot of these workers are from overseas, they're young workers and they have no idea of how to keep themselves safe, or the safe operating practices when they're asked to carry out a task.

"So to say that farming is low risk, some one has got it wrong and needs to correct it."

In the past seven years more than 53,000 workers have been been injured on dairy farms, 7000 of them severely.

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