Agriculture tops work deaths

On the job . . . Timaru man Dave Skudder(subs crt Dave Skudder) was injured in a work place...
On the job . . . Timaru man Dave Skudder(subs crt Dave Skudder) was injured in a work place accident three years ago. PHOTO: RACHAEL COMER
Agriculture accounts for the majority of workplace fatalities in South Canterbury.

A breakdown of fatalities and serious harm in the workplace across a 10-year period has been released to The Courier, following a request to WorkSafe New Zealand under the Official Information Act. The information shows 14 people employed in the agricultural sector lost their lives from 2004 to 2014.

Eight people employed in arts and recreation services were killed in the same period, followed by construction, and public administration and safety, which accounted for three deaths each in the past 10 years. The manufacturing industry was the main contributor to serious harm incidents in South Canterbury from 2004 to 2014, with 173 workplace accidents. In the agricultural sector, 108 people were seriously hurt on the job from 2004 to 2014.

Ninety-nine people were seriously harmed on the job in the transport, postal and warehouse industries in that period. The figures follow a special report compiled for The Courier by WorkSafe New Zealand last month. It showed workplace injuries in South Canterbury are on track to be down significantly on the 2013-14 year. Figures showed that in the first eight months of the year to the end of June 2015, 58 notified serious harm incidents were reported in South Canterbury workplaces.

With four months of the year still to go, the figures marked a significant drop on the 138 injuries reported the year before.

Numbers have steadily decreased over the past 10 years -in comparison, 164 serious injuries were reported in the 2004-05 year. WorkSafe New Zealand is committed to achieving a 25% reduction of the workplace death and injury toll by 2020.

WorkSafe New Zealand was established in December 2013, following a decision by the Government to establish a stand-alone workplace health and safety regulatory agency - a direct response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River coal mine tragedy of 2012, which claimed 29 lives, and the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety in 2013.


On the job . . . Timaru man Dave Skudder was injured in a workplace accident three years ago. PHOTO: RACHAEL COMER
A workplace accident can happen anywhere, at any time, says Dave Skudder.

The 69-year-old Timaru man was badly injured in a workplace incident three years ago and, as a result, has had to change jobs.

Mr Skudder, a mechanic, was working on a forklift when the accident happened.''

I was putting it back together and putting the cab down when it malfunctioned and crushed me,'' Mr Skudder said.

He still remembered vividly the accident, which broke his shoulder, collarbone and three ribs.''

I was in the workshop and yelled out.''

It was one and a-half-tonne machine and if I'd been in the workshop by myself, I would have died.''

Mr Skudder was in hospital for three weeks and off work for two months. As a result of the accident, he is now unable to handle heavy machinery.

''I had to find a job which involved lighter machines,'' he said. The accident was investigated and was found to be beyond anyone's control. ''I took all the safety precautions.''

''It was beyond anyone's control - it was an accident.''

The incident has made Mr Skudder even more safety-conscious. ''We all do some things in our life which are silly and get away with it but I'm always aware of the safety hazards now.''


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