Enhancing Farm Safety: Innovative Solutions to Prevent Injuries


  Added 3 weeks ago

  By Hawke's Bay Future Farming Trust

Enhancing Farm Safety: Innovative Solutions to Prevent Injuries

The integration of technology and innovative solutions is becoming increasingly vital in agriculture, addressing various challenges such as improving working conditions, boosting productivity, and reducing on-farm injuries.

The Reducing Sprains and Strains project, funded by ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention Grants program and co-invested by DairyNZ, is a prime example of such innovation.

Despite farmers' emphasis on health and safety, sprain and strain injuries still occur, particularly during peak periods. Our research indicates that around 40% of dairy farm injuries are sprains and strains, especially prevalent from August to October during spring calving.

Recognizing the potential impact of this project on the health and wellbeing of farm teams was a key motivator for my involvement. Reflecting on our achievements now is highly rewarding. DairyNZ played a crucial role in concept development, partnering with companies to create and market effective solutions, such as the Easy-Entry Calf Trailer Gate by Kea Trailers. This gate features a spring-loaded, self-closing saloon door, facilitating easy calf loading without the need to slide or open gates. It can also be retrofitted to existing trailers. Farmers were actively involved in the prototype phase, helping to trial and refine the design. Some have already adopted the product after its showcase at the Fieldays Innovation Hub last year.

Other innovative products nearing market release include:

  • Easy-Access Calf Pen Gate (produced by Gallagher): Retrofits between calf pens for hands-free access while carrying buckets or moving calves.
  • Bucket Trolley (produced by Wheelco): Features a pivoting design for easy lifting and transporting of 1-2 colostrum buckets across uneven terrain.
  • Cups on Mat (produced by The Wholesale Matting Company): A cushioned mat that elevates shorter individuals working with cups-on to a better ergonomic position.

These products were rigorously tested by farmers to ensure they are user-friendly and compatible with current farming practices. I believe they will significantly reduce injuries and simplify farm tasks.

Collaborating with farmers and experts throughout the project, including co-designing solutions to mitigate injury risks, was immensely valuable. Partnerships with QCONZ and Pāmu further enhanced the farmer-centered approach of the project.

New Zealand’s diverse farming landscape means these solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. However, the project's co-design approach has yielded valuable options for farmers aiming to enhance safety and ease their workload.

During our work, it became evident that farms nationwide already possess numerous innovative ideas. I encourage you to seek injury prevention strategies from fellow farmers and your team. Popular tips shared by farmers include:

  • Using specialized trailers for calf transport,
  • Piping milk into calf feeders to avoid lifting buckets,
  • Having two people lift heavier calves together,
  • Tucking hoses away after use in the milking shed,
  • Investing in footwear with good grip and ankle support.

For more information on the project, visit dairynz.co.nz/sprains-strains.

 


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