Farmer's death the latest in an 'unacceptable' toll

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:01 13/08/2014
ANDREW FLINTOFF: The Te Awamutu farmer was killed after being pulled into a piece of farming machinery.
ANDREW FLINTOFF: The Te Awamutu farmer was killed after being pulled into a piece of farming machinery.

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An "unacceptable" number of people are dying in New Zealand's agricultural sector, according to the health and safety regulator.

Last year, 20 people were killed doing agriculture work, making it the country's single most dangerous occupation, WorkSafe NZ national programmes manager Francois Barton said.

His comments come after Te Awamutu farmer Andrew Flintoff was killed after being pulled into a piece of farm machinery last week.

Flintoff had just celebrated his 40th birthday and was looking forward to his wedding. His funeral was held on Monday.

He and his fiancee Laura had been spraying fertiliser at the family farm between Te Awamutu and Otorohanga.

When it started to rain, she went inside for lunch with Flintoff's parents and her 4-year-old son.

When Flintoff did not come in after a while, his father John went to look for him.

"The next minute he came back and said Andrew was dead," Laura said. "It was awful."

It appeared Flintoff had leaned over an exposed Power Take Off and been pulled around its drive line.

The PTO shaft is found at the rear of a tractor and uses a tractor's engine to drive equipment attached to the tractor.

WorkSafe has launched an investigation into Flintoff's death.

Barton would not comment on the incident but said PTOs are an obvious hazard to those working on farms.

Barton said they are close to announcing the detail of a multi-year, multi-focused Safer Farms programme.

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