Pesticides more harmful than tractors

Airborne substances such as pesticides and exhaust fumes accounted for 97 deaths in the agriculture sector in 2010, WorkSafe New Zealand has found. Source: Radio New Zealand

Its review of agricultural sector data also revealed 670 people were hospitalised due to toxins released into the air.

WorkSafe agriculture programme manager Al McCone said the figures were surprising.

“It reveals to us that in the past there has been a concentration on injury-causing incidents, but in fact there is a far greater series of harms going on in agriculture.”

In the past tractors had open-air cabs and drivers were breathing in the dust storm they had created.

The review found that of the 59 deaths between 2013 and 2015 in agriculture, 45 involved vehicles. Injuries requiring more than a week off work peaked in the 20-24 and over 50 age groups. In the younger age group, this was more likely to be attributable to a lack of experience combined with lower impulse control.

In the older, it was thought to be due in part to the impact of age and poor health on injury likelihood and severity, in addition to “entrenched health and safety attitudes and behaviours”.