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Revolutionary helmets to be promoted during Young Farmer grand final

ATV helmets that are a world first will be used by the seven contestants in the 2003 WRIGHTSON-AGMARDT Young Farmer grand final.

Contest manager Richard Fitzgerald said ACC had donated 30 new helmets and they are being presented to the first three place-getters at all the regional finals, which have now finished. The helmets have arrived in time to be showcased at the final at the Hawkes Bay A &P Showgrounds from July 3-5.

³The contest is presenting best industry practice. The helmets are a key safety measure and there¹s an expectation that the contestants will use them during the practical events,² Mr Fitzgerald said.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are involved in a third of accidental deaths on New Zealand farms, with 17 fatalities in the last three years. In the 1990-99 period, 3921 people were hospitalised due to ATV-related accidents. Of these, 21% involved injuries to the head region and 9% were concussion injuries. International research suggests a motorcycle-type helmet could reduce the risk of death by 42 per cent and non-fatal head injuries by 64 per cent.

John Wallaart, ACC¹s Programme Manager for Injury Prevention, said farmers have often refused to wear conventional helmets in the past. ³They are too heavy, air circulation is poor so they feel hot and they can¹t hear the sheep and the dogs or their cellphones.²

ACC was so concerned by the high accident rates it sponsored Standards New Zealand to develop a manufacturing standard for a suitable helmet. Farming organisations, the Agriculture Industry Training Organisation, manufacturers and employers, Safekids, and motorcycle distributors were among the people involved in the Standards committee.

Two New Zealand companies are now manufacturing the new helmets. ³It is the first time anyone in the world has come up with a helmet specifically for ATVs and at the farm safety courses we run we¹ve been pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastic farmers have been about them. They are changing the farmers¹ pattern of thinking,² Mr Wallaart said.

He said it was important that influential people within farming were seen to be wearing them, hence the donation to the Young Farmer contest.

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