August a peak period for farm injuries

Farmers are being reminded of the risks posed by livestock and vehicles during calving as historically the number of injuries on dairy farms rocket up in August.


Although there are relatively few incidents causing injuries on farms in June, this number doubles in July and then more than doubles again in August. Dairy farmers in particular are more likely to be injured by cows in August than in any time of the year.


The two main injuries are to the lower back and neck, and the two main causes are being kicked, stood on, or bitten by animals, or muscular stress from lifting or carrying.


In addition, uneven ground, sharp objects, motorbikes and quads, and fences or railings are involved in injuries to the neck and shoulders, as well as back sprains, ankle strains, and eye injuries.


Al McCone, WorkSafe Agriculture Programme Manager, says the calving season means dairy farmers are working long hours in the dark, cold, and wet.


“Farmers are dealing with stroppy animals, and doing lots of lifting and carrying. With this work comes a lot of risks. We’re encouraging farmers to think about the things that cause injury during this time of year and think about how to deal with them before they happen. It’s a good idea to ensure everyone on the farm does the thinking.


“Check everyone involved is capable of working with cows or is partnered with someone who has good stock sense and experience.  It’s far better to prevent an injury than to cope with the loss of a worker or family member for a few weeks.  A worker sent home with a back injury means someone else has to do that job. This could mean hiring extra staff, or getting your existing staff to work longer hours to get the job done.”


“As it is a busy time, eating a proper meal and drinking water is the last thing you think about. But it’s important to get the right nutrition and to stay hydrated so that you don’t get fatigued as quickly.”Get people to practice good lifting techniques – whether picking up calves, or buckets, or bags of powder. It is also good practice to minimise the distance when carrying heavy loads across uneven ground. If people are doing the same tasks over and over again, take a break and stretch your back, shoulders, and neck.


“These simple steps will go a long way to keeping you safe and keeping you farming.”


For more information on staying safe on farms, go to


Article supplied by Worksafe NZ


Disclaimer: The content of this article is intended for general information only and issued to readers as a guide and for their private information. Nick Hoogeveen & Associates website articles do not constitute advice and readers should not act solely on the basis of the material contained within this article. Also, changes in legislation may occur quickly. We, therefore, recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of these areas.