Thursday, 17 March 2016 06:55

Early autumn peak period for hort injuries

Written by 
There's the last of the summerfruit is to be harvested, but everyone's tired – bringing a heightened risk of accidents in growing operations. There's the last of the summerfruit is to be harvested, but everyone's tired – bringing a heightened risk of accidents in growing operations.

There's the last of the summerfruit is to be harvested, but everyone's tired – bringing a heightened risk of accidents in growing operations.

Injury rates in the horticulture sector soar during the main growing season and growers are being reminded to keep a close eye on managing health and safety.

Statistics from ACC and WorkSafe reveal injury rates begin climbing sharply in January and peak between February and April. Last year alone, one hundred and twenty-four people were severely injured in horticulture, with an additional 1,173 suffering less severe injuries.

The most common cause of injuries is falls from height, including from ladders, stepladders and trees. Other causes of severe injury and death include being struck by a moving cherry-picker, catching limbs in machinery and vehicles touching power cables.

Al McCone, WorkSafe's agriculture programme manager, says harvesting of fruit crops at height, fatigue and the large influx of seasonal workers, (many with little understanding of safe work practices and some with English as a second language) all contribute to the significant spike in injuries.

Although horticulture has a lower incidence of accidents than pastoral agriculture, McCone says the injury rates at this time of the year underline the need for growers to take care during busy times.

"I think there is greater understanding in the horticulture sector about the basics of keeping people safe because horticulturalists are more familiar with systems, audits and policies through involvement with programmes such as Global GAP and through being more closely involved with the import and export process," says McCone.

"However this sharp seasonal increase suggests growers need to review how effective their health and systems are during their busiest times. By identifying potential risks in a growing operation, putting in place a plan to manage those, involving staff in the process and communicating the plan to them, growers can significantly reduce the risk of accidents – and boost productivity due to fewer lost hours as a result of injuries.

"Before beginning any task, it's a good idea to run through what will be involved and what the risks might be – for instance, is there sufficient clearance to move the cherry picker under power lines? Or, who else is working in the area where you need to use the tractor.

"It's also worth demonstrating to people how to do things, get them to practice things like good lifting and picking techniques, and make sure they eat proper meals, stay hydrated and don't get too fatigued.

"These simple steps will go a long way to keep everyone safe. By improving safety, growers can improve their bottom line."

More like this

Seasonal worker facility opened

A new state of the art accommodation facility for RSE or temporary overseas workers at a large Māori kiwifruit orchard in the Bay of Plenty has been opened by the Minister of Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta.

Vege crops at risk of rotting

Fruit and vegetable growers are warning their produce will be left unpicked and rotting in the fields unless the Government approves urgent visas for overseas workers.



Back the sector that backs NZ

OPINION: The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.


Lamb price down, but not weak

While lamb prices are starting the new season at around 16% below last year’s levels, they are not outright weak,…

Quota split a major worry

New Zealand meat exporters want the EU and UK to get serious on reaching a deal on post-Brexit quotas.

NZ meat exports at risk

Nearly half of our country’s meat exports are at risk unless there is urgent action by government to allow migrant…

Machinery & Products

Claas cargo wagon

CLAAS has extended the versatility, productivity and user comfort of its CARGOS dual purpose transport wagons with the addition of…

These tractors are pumping

CLAAS has announced it will introduce a new automatic tyre inflation system across its AXION and ARION series of tractors.

Great hay cut at speed

Contractors and farmers on the lookout to mow and condition at higher speeds, while producing better quality hay and forage,…

Fendt enters NZ harvest market

Farm machinery brand Fendt has expanded into the harvester market in Australia and New Zealand, with is Ideal combine harvester.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

He's back!

OPINION: This old mutt understands that former Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has landed himself a new gig back in his…


OPINION: Your canine crusader understands that the farmer’s favourite politician – Environment Minister David Parker – not content with implementing…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter