Familiarity breeds contempt for many agricultural folk when it comes to putting on a seatbelt in a farm vehicle – something that is causing too many deaths.
Almost half of vehicle-related deaths on farms could be avoided if only seatbelts were worn. That was the finding of WorkSafe New Zealand after a recent analysis of farming fatalities involving vehicles. The health and safety regulator found that not wearing seatbelts was the largest single factor contributing to fatal, work-related accidents.
Complacency and the age of the farmer or agricultural worker also played a big part. WorkSafe engagement lead for agriculture Al McCone said the older someone was, the more likely they were to injure themselves from not wearing a seatbelt in an on-farm incident.
“Farm vehicles are versatile and many fatalities reported to WorkSafe involve older experienced farmers doing tasks on terrain they have worked on many times before,” he said.
Mr McCone said more than 75 per cent of all deaths on farms involved a vehicle, and non-seatbelt use was relevant in 40 per cent of vehicle-related fatalities and 27 per cent of all fatalities on farms.
“And of every 10 fatalities where seatbelt use may have been relevant, nine people were not wearing them,” he said.
“Putting on your seatbelt is the simplest task and one we practice easily when driving on the open road.
If we can get people doing this on the farm as well, we will see lives saved.”
It would also save taxpayer money – Mr McCone said if all agricultural workers wore seatbelts, claim costs to ACC could be reduced by almost $2 million a year.
WorkSafe NZ has developed a new side-by-side vehicle simulator to demonstrate a series of farm safety tasks while driving on an off-road course through rough farm terrain. The retired and converted side-by-side vehicle is touring the country, visiting major agricultural events including the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition and it will be at Fieldays in Mystery Creek later this month.
Mr McCone said the first task for anyone trying it out was “put on your seatbelt”.
“The simulator shows people how making decisions about where and what you’re driving is an important part of staying safe,” he said. “This simulator is designed to highlight the challenges of farming in New Zealand and brings really important health and safety messages to the forefront of users’ minds.”