Farm Safety – Things to think about for everybody!
Last week, (6-10 July) was the 3rd annual Farm Safety week. This initiative has highlighted a number of topics which affect, not just the farming community of Britain but anyone who visits the countryside and enters farmland. This could be somebody out walking enjoying the fresh air, people having a holiday staying on a farm or people, especially children, visiting a farm as part of their holiday or on a school trip.
Farming fatality figures show no decline
The National Farmers Union, NFU, is urging British farmers to assess risks and take action to make agriculture safer, after HSE figures showed there were 33 worker deaths in the sector last year. In addition, four members of the public died on farms.
The figures show no progress against the five-year average.
Farms also remain the only workplace where children continue to suffer serious injuries
The two HSE cases this week both look at tragic accidents that shouldn’t have happened
- The employee, who wishes not be named, suffered a broken and lacerated finger during the incident at English Provender Company Ltd’s site in Thatcham, Berkshire.
- The 19-year-old employee spent months in hospital and his injuries are life-changing. It is not known if he will ever be able to walk again.
Farm Safety – Things to think about for everybody!
This year’s Farm Safety Week (6-10 July) was supported the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnership, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.
Farming accident rates showing no decline!
Some 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, the same as the average of 33 deaths in the past five years and, unfortunately, an increase from the 27 deaths recorded in 2013/14.
So what are the main areas to consider, both for the farmer/farm worker and the casual visitor?
29% of all farm related fatalities have been due to vehicle overturns and people being struck by moving vehicles on England’s farms.
All-terrain vehicles, including quad bikes, can have fatal consequences if best practice is not adhered to. Even when it is, there is always the possibility that accidents can happen – but you can take steps to reduce those chances and best protect yourself should an issue occur.
And of course, if you are the driver of a farm vehicle don’t forget to think about the consequences of your actions and don’t lose concentration!
Experienced farmer Roger James, lost concentration and hence control of his quad bike whilst riding up a slope on his Powys farm and ended up underneath it.
Roger admits that a moment’s inattention changed his, and his family’s life forever. “99 times out of 100 I wouldn’t have gone up that slope on the quad bike,” he said.
“I just wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing for those few seconds. I did it without thinking. Basically, I shouldn’t have been there.”
Roger was herding cows on his farm at the time. Before moving the herd, he set off on his quad bike to check out the new field. With a number of tasks in mind his attention slipped, just for a moment, from steering the machine along an appropriate route.
That fleeting loss of concentration meant he found himself riding up a slope instead of continuing his approach on level ground. The result was sudden and dramatic. The slope was too steep for the vehicle’s stability. It tipped backwards and upended, throwing Roger on to the ground behind. As he lay there, stunned and unable to move, the tumbling machine landed on him. Half a tonne of falling metal hit Roger’s unprotected body and smashed his pelvis. He wasn’t wearing protective headgear so, serious as his injuries were, he considers himself lucky they weren’t even worse.
Roger spent eight days in traction before being transferred to University Hospital, Coventry for surgery. He then spent a further seven days in hospital and the following three months confined to bed. But the consequences of that momentary lapse are permanent. Roger’s injury has left him in constant pain with limited mobility.
The livestock ABC – ‘Always Be Careful’
Over the past five years 17% of all reported major injuries are as a result of livestock-related incidents and 11% of all workers killed on farms over this period were livestock-related. Handling livestock always involves risks, from crushing to kicking and butting.
Of course it isn’t just Farmers and their workers who are at risk from livestock. People with little to no knowledge of livestock can find themselves in trouble when the wander into fields of cattle especially when they have a dog on the lead.
Most cattle are placid animals and safe to be near. However some breeds are more temperamental than others whilst all breeds will go on the offensive to protect their young, especially if they feel threatened by a barking dog. So please think BEFORE you enter a field of livestock!
Fencing of slurry lagoons
A few years ago I visited a farmer out on Exmoor. His wife was subsidising their business by running a small B&B business. Whilst I was there I saw some children kicking a ball around only a few yards away from his Slurry pit. Now it was in the summer and the top of the slurry had formed a crust and so looked much like the rest of the ground. There was no fence to prevent these children running on to this slurry pit to retrieve their ball.
When I pointed this out to the farmer, he said he couldn’t see a problem because “Everyone knows what it is” and “no-one has run onto it yet”