'We definitely need them' - older employees important, but at higher risk of suffering workplace injuries

The saying goes "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" but new research could see the quip changed to "the older they are, the more they get injured."

A University of Otago study conducted by anthropologist Chrys Jaye has revealed that nearly a quarter of ACC claims for workplace accidents are from workers aged between 55 to 79 years old.

That's quite a significant age-range, but with baby-boomers and population growth taken into consideration there's potential for a concerning amount of workplace injuries for the health system to deal with in the future.

Unsurprisingly, the more physical jobs produce the most injuries.

"The thing that was perhaps of the greatest concern for us is that men were over represented in that group, so men had about twice the numbers of workplace injuries that women had, Maori and Pacific Island and other ethnicities were overrepresented as well," Ms Jaye said.

The research found the injuries sustained were generally soft tissue injuries and fractures, often as a result of falling.

"It seems that the main reason for these injuries was falls, and lifting and carrying were the biggest problems," Ms Jaye said.

Grey Power president Tom O’Connor says the findings backs up their opposition to lifting the retirement age.

"They (workers) should not be under financial pressure to stay at work beyond 65, even that, even 65 in some physically demanding jobs is too old. The smart guys are using older staff as trainers and mentors.

"If they're really smart about it promote them up to a supervisory role - if that's possible and if they're capable of doing it, that's where they should be," Mr O'Connor told 1 NEWS.

Construction firm Naylor Love says based on the company's own anecdotal evidence, the study paints a realistic picture of what is happening in the workforce, and while younger workers who've more recently joined the company had the most accidents, it was the older workers who had more serious ones.

"The younger guys, less experienced, are more likely to have accidents but generally (the accidents) are reasonably minor. For the older guys, with a bit more experience; know what to do, know where to go and don't necessarily have the accidents.

"But with age other issues come where they might have sprains, strains around backs/necks and things like that," Ian McKie of Naylor Love said.

Mr McKie was quick to stress that although they suffer more serious injuries, the older section of their workforce is highly valued.

"We definitely need them, they've got the experience skills and knowledge to help train and develop the younger guys coming up through and share that. So we try and keep them in an environment that’s going to keep them working as long as they want to," he said.

Study author Chrys Jaye hopes the findings will lead to further discussions and approached from workplaces managers to mitigate risks.

A five-year University of Otago study shows men, particularly in manual labour jobs, are at most risk. Source: 1 NEWS

Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick


Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS


What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.

An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp


Farmers fear summer El Nino drought as Spring rains wipe out lamb stocks

Farmers across the North Island counting the cost of a wild start to spring, with thousands of lambs lost due to heavy rain, may soon have another problem to contend with.

Their attention has turned to the coming summer, with those on the East Coast concerned a predicted El Nino weather pattern could bring drought, turning the green hills bone dry.

"It's a matter of making decisions early and keeping an eye on it, a drought normally happens slowly, and you've got some time to get used adapt to it," Federated Farmers Jim Galloway says.

The warning comes as some Hawke's Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flocks due to recent heavy unseasonal rain.

Farmer Ben Crosse told 1 NEWS that he lost around 750 of his new-borns.

"New-born lambs are very vulnerable, particularly in the young ewes who are having their first lamb and are a bit more hesitant.

"The lamb birth weight's lighter, so it takes the first-born lamb a wee while to get a drink, and they sometimes can't get going in the rain," Mr Crosse said.

After a wet start, it could be a long hot summer ahead for many New Zealand lambs.

Some Hawke’s Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flock. Source: 1 NEWS

Clever kea using tools to raid traps

A native bird famous for its mischievious behaviour has now figured out how to use tools, researchers have found.

Researchers have found that world's only alpine parrot - the kea - in the South Island's Murchison Mountains is using sticks to get food out of stoat trap boxes.

The findings by Gavin Hunt and Mat Goodman have been printed in the Scientific Reports Journal.

The pair found that over a 30-month period, 227 different traps had been raided using sticks across the ranges, which indicated many kea were responsible.

The trapping is part of a Department of Conservation operation to protect Takahe.

From 2002 to 2009 the traps were untouched, but then trappers began to notice the boxes tipped upside down. Some had stones in them and a growing number had sticks in them.

"It's an incredible amount of tool-using," Mr Hunt, an ecologist, said.

Trail cameras were set up and filmed a kea probing a trap-box with sticks.

It is the first evidence of non-humans using a tool in the country.

Mr Hunt said it would have taken many years for kea to develop the technique.

"It seems to be unique... a non-tool using bird having such extensive tool using behaviour and repeatedly using tools over many years."

"It shows the kea has high general intelligence to invent the tool use and keep using the tools to get the eggs out of the trap-boxes."

This suggests how cognitively demanding its been for the birds to figure out the technique, which shows its intelligence, he said.

It may be more difficult to invent tool use in the wild because the natural food is better hidden and more demanding to find, he said.

Having a situation where the food is sitting in a box and easier to see and reach could have encouraged the birds to invent the tool, the research suggests.

Kea are known to have used tools while in captivity but not in the wild, Mr Hunt said.

He said this makes kea one of the better candidates for New Zealand's "smartest bird".

Further research is now needed to discover if kea can use the tool to hunt for legitimate sources of food in its natural environment, he said.


Forest and Bird estimate less than 7000 kea remain.
Source: 1 NEWS