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5 farm fatalities in 3 months show not enough being done

Ag Drive is calling on the agriculture industry to step up and do more to keep people safe on farm, with 5 fatalities in the first 3 months of 2023, with the launch of their ‘Change the Culture’ campaign.

WorkSafe data shows that from 1 January – 31 March 2023, there were 5 farm fatalities and 30 WorkSafe notifiable injuries. In the 12 months to January 2023, there were 14 fatalities in total, and there are more fatalities on farms than in any other industry in New Zealand. 

Ag Drive, the Waikato’s largest vehicle training provider, says more needs to be done to keep people safe.

“One death is one too many. To have five in three months is frankly inexcusable,” says Ag Drive Director Andre Syben.

He says a culture shift is what’s needed, and there needs to be more commitment from the entire agricultural supply chain to improve the statistics.

“From corporates who farmers supply, to farm owners and employers of farm staff, and workers themselves, we all have a responsibility to keep everyone safe,” he says. 

“Passing the buck, softening the message and only talking about it isn’t going to cut it. We need a serious commitment from industry and Government and a practical strategy to change the culture.”

Syben says programmes like Ag Drive’s award-winning vehicle training exist, and the health and safety frameworks are already there. He acknowledges that training is only one part of the solution, and that Ag Drive training focuses on building a safety culture.

He says the buy-in and support from corporate industry is what is lacking.

“Where are the corporates mandating that their suppliers meet stringent health and safety standards? Where is the Government? We need to take collective ownership. These organisations should be subsidizing the cost of training to farmers to make it more accessible,” he says.

“It’s time to change the culture. We can and we should do better.”

Lindy Nelson, Chair of Safer Farms, supports AgDrive’s campaign stating, “The industry recognises we need a collective, combined approach to addressing safety on farms. We cannot leave farmers to figure it out alone. This is an example of businesses stepping up to help protect farmers from harm - a great initiative that we fully support."

Ag Drive is putting its money where its mouth is to get things started. The Ag Drive ‘Change the Culture’ Campaign will give away 10 x 1 day machinery operation Ag Drive Courses for free, to the value of $6500. Winners will be drawn at the 2023 National Fieldays. See more here