August is the most dangerous time for dairy farmers and the month when they are most likely to be injured on the farm, data shows.

Accident Compensation Corporation statistics show the top injury for dairy farmers - lodged as a workplace injury month-on-month from 2008 to 2015 - was a lumbar sprain. Neck, ankle, sprain of the shoulder and upper arm sprains featured in the top five alongside a foreign body in the eye.

Monthly claims over those periods show there were 6291 dairy workplace injuries in August compared to the next highest month that was September with 5670 claims and June that recorded the lowest at 3107 claims.

Data from ACC also shows in 2014, $8,843,566 was paid out to injured Bay of Plenty workers, with most of it going to farmers, truckies, tradespeople and kiwifruit growers.


People injured while working in the dairy cattle industry received $2,826,335 from ACC for injuries, with 389 new claims made for soft-tissue injuries such as contusions and strains, the most common cause of complaint.

ACC data shows the pastoral livestock sector has one of the highest severe injury rates per 1000 workers nationally. Figures showed Bay claims were most commonly caused by "puncture" incidents, followed by lifting, carrying, or straining, followed by incidents of collision or being knocked over by something.

WorkSafe agriculture programme manager Al McCone says historically the number of injuries on dairy farms grows in August.

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

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

Dairy farmers worked long hours during the calving season in the dark, cold and wet, he said.

"Farmers are dealing with stroppy animals, and doing lots of lifting and carrying. With this work comes a lot of risk. 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 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."

A Dairy NZ spokeswoman said it did not have any specific safety programmes but it was working with the Dairy Women's Network on a health and safety module which would start rolling out in October.

-For more information on staying safe on farms, go to