Women at risk on farms

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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.

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