Farm Safety Week might have been last week, but it’s important to make sure it remains in the spotlight. Farm Safety Week is an initiative originally launched back in 2013 to raise awareness of the fact that agriculture has the poorest record when it comes to workplace fatalities. The farming environment is full of risks and it is absolutely vital that these are acknowledged and that something is done to cut the number of fatalities. The latest annual figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that out of 137 people killed or fatally injured in workplace accidents last year, 27 worked in agriculture. This is absolutely unacceptable.
This time last week I was at the Royal Welsh Show, and I happened to bump in to Ed Ford, the current Chair of Young Farmers. He is working to raise much more awareness of farm safety, as a priority for his term in office. It’s brilliant to have someone in such a position doing this (Ed is a working farmer as well as Chair of NFYFC) as the trends need to drop. However, it’s really up to everyone working in the industry to be aware of the risks and to take action to mitigate against them.
I know that Farm Safety Week is now over, but it doesn’t mean that farm safety awareness should be over. With this in mind, here are a few points to raise awareness of farm safety issues:
- Make sure everyone on the farm has proper training to use various equipment and machinery and are comfortable with what they are doing.
- Follow ‘safe stop’ procedures in vehicles (leave in neutral, put on the handbrake and take out the key).
- Make sure there aren’t any pedestrians around when using machinery. If there are people about, ensure they know what you are doing and the areas that they should avoid. Stay aware of them throughout.
- Remember it is easy to fall off a roof. All roofs can kill. Use equipment such as a harness.
- Head injuries are common from quad bikes. Make sure you wear a helmet.
- Livestock can be unpredictable. Stay aware of them and use the right equipment.
- Remember overhead power lines. If you are driving with raised equipment you need to be particularly aware.
- Slurry tanks and damp grain stores can all contain toxic gases. Always make sure they are safe before entering.
- Never get off a tractor that is still moving.
- Keep your hands, hair and clothing away from PTO shafts and other moving parts.
- Make sure all machinery is kept in good condition and that a mechanic assesses it all for condition regularly.