Males at greater risk of death or injury on farms

Males are twice as likely as females to be injured on the farm, according to an analysis by WorkSafe New Zealand.

Almost 80 per cent of workers injured and requiring more than a week off work in agriculture were male with hand wounds and sprains of the lumbar, ankle, shoulder, arm, and rotator cuff the most common injuries.

Meanwhile, 53 of the 59 fatalities in the industry between 2013 and 2015, 53 (90 per cent) were male.

Working with livestock such as sheep and cattle, sharp objects and vehicles accounted for many of the incidents.

Men were also more likely to have a hand wound likely linked to tool use and maintenance work whereas females are more prone to sprain, likely linked to lower average upper body strength.

WorkSafe Agriculture Programme Manager Al McCone said even taking into account that there are far more males than females working in the sector, men are still more than twice as likely to suffer injuries than females.

“The most common external factor involved in injury for both genders is live cattle, followed by ground/path (almost certainly related to slips, trips and falls). Females, however, are more likely to be injured by livestock, in comparison to other factors, than males. Males are more likely to be injured by vehicles in comparison to other factors than females.

“What makes these figures all the more poignant is that almost all agricultural accidents are entirely avoidable. By thinking through or talking through beforehand how you will manage the risks involved in a task, even one you have done many times before, you will be better prepared for it.

“It might be you decide the quad bike isn’t the best vehicle for towing spraying equipment, it might be taking time to share good practice for dealing with stock, or assessing whether it’s best to drag or carry when a hillside is slippery from rain or snow. It’s just a few minutes of planning but it could make all the difference between you or one of your team making a good decision or a poor one.”

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