Increasing agriculture worker involvement in health and safety decision-making could bring the on-farm injury rate down, according to WorkSafe New Zealand.

WorkSafe’s April 2012-March 2015 farm sector analysis shows farm assistants, labourers and agricultural workers are more likely to suffer injuries at work than self-employed people.

For every 1,000 employees in the agricultural sector, 20 suffered an injury requiring more than a week off work compared with 12 out of every 1,000-self-employed individuals.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone said the data underlined the importance of farmers talking with everyone who works on the farm - employees, contractors, and family - to ensure they are aware of risks on the farm and the best ways to manage those risks.

“A simple way to positively change the culture is to get workers more involved with farm decisions around health and safety. It’s the workers who are out there in the paddock or shed seeing first-hand what the conditions and potential risks are.

“This isn’t a one-off thing. It’s a good idea for farmers to have regular conversations with everyone on the farm about this. Risks such as handling large animals, visiting vehicles and large machinery will always be there, and need to be continually re-assessed and addressed.

“Then there are risks that change daily due to variables such as weather conditions or different seasonal work. It might have been safe to take the farm bike up that hill yesterday when it was dry, but it may not be today if the grass is wet,” said Mr McCone.

Managing health and safety on farms has some great advice and resources for farmers about how to have a conversation with your employees about health and safety.”

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