Women at risk on farms
The unwanted down side of more women involved in dairying is a greater number also involved in quad bike accidents, the biggest cause of on-farm injuries and deaths in New Zealand.
It is an unwanted equality and one the Dairy Women’s Network is aiming to correct.
Last year two farming women were killed in quad bike accidents.
A 62-year-old woman was killed on her property in Kaikohe, while a young farm worker was killed near Westport.
Over the past eight years seven women have lost their lives in quad accidents on farms and every year, on average, five farmers are killed and 850 are injured.
The accidents incur an ACC bill of around $7 million a year and leave a legacy of loss, debilitation and pain. The Dairy Women’s Network is working with the Department of Labour to increase the level of quad bike skills dairying women have and in November is using its popular Dairy Days as a way to get the message out about safer riding.
‘‘More women than ever are involved in the dairy industry, often as heavily as their male counterparts and the impact death and injury has on rural families and businesses is simply too great to ignore,’’ said Dairy Womens Network chief executive Sarah Speight.
Women attending the Dairy Days – held nationally from November 8 to 30 – will leave with more knowledge on the key principles of quad bike operation and information to pass on to staff back at the farm around quad bike regulations.
AgITO adviser Graeme Couper is one of the 10 instructors who will be attending the Dairy Days, providing hands-on tips to improve quad bike riding skills.
He said women were often more open to improving their skill set and played a vital role in passing those skills on to other staff.
‘‘Often they may not be riding as frequently and when they do they may be in challenging situations, like towing calf milk which can challenge your skills and the quad’s ability.
‘‘We also hope to highlight things less obvious, like the need for good, ongoing maintenance programmes on quads to keep them safe.’’
The Dairy Days are structured to provide plenty of opportunity to ask questions on all aspects of quad bike safety and are set around ‘‘farm friendly’’ times between 10am to 2pm.
The Department of Labour is one year into an initiative aimed at reducing the level of accidents on quad bikes and the campaign comes with four key messages that will be reinforced at the Dairy Days.
They are to always wear a helmet, keep children off quads, train staff correctly and use the right machine for the job.
The department is aiming to reduce quad bike accidents by 30 per cent by 2013.
Department head of harm reduction Francois Barton said working with the Dairy Women’s Network reflected the valuable role women could play in improving quad bike safety on their own farms.
‘‘We know they are often the influencers on the farm and we believe they can help reduce death and injury by the way they ride quad bikes,’’ he said.
Dairy Days participants will learn more about the seasonal farm visits Department of Labour inspectors will be making around the country, ensuring farm quad bike safety is being taken seriously.
The Dairy Day quad bike sessions also aim to inform farming women who may employ staff about their obligations to ensure all safety measures are taken.
After a quad bike accident killed a Masterton worker in 2008, the employer was fined $78,000 and required to pay $60,000 in reparation to the worker’s family.
‘‘We are hoping that women who attend the Dairy Days can become champions for safer quad bike riding when they get back to the farm.
‘‘The impact of a death or injury on a farm from a quad bike is personal, social and economic, and anything that can help reduce that has to be good for that farm and for the industry,’’ said Sarah Speight.