I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the British farming industry. It is a profession that is diverse and rewarding, with no two days being the same.
But I am less proud of our safety record which sees our industry taking the spotlight as the most hazardous, with a total of 27 farm related deaths occurring last year alone.
This needs tackling and is why am I supporting Farm Safety Week.
It is a simple concept that can saves limbs, lives and livelihoods if implemented across UK farms.
Granted farmers can be set in their ways, grumbling about ‘health and safety’ procedures as they a) take too long b) cost too much – but as the saying goes, playing with fire will get you burned.
It is disheartening to see farmers, both young and old, lose their lives doing what they love, all because of quick decisions/carelessness/lack of awareness.
As young farmers we need to utilise our voices and shout about the importance of farm safety to our peers and seniors.
Our position as the next generation provides the perfect opportunity to promote the safety message and tackle an outdated attitude towards health and safety.
I have put together some top safety tips for all farm workers!
Transport and Machinery
Perhaps unsurprisingly, transport and machinery was the biggest cause of death for farm workers last year, killing a huge total of 9 people.
Top tips for T+M:
- Cover PTO shifts and make sure they are in good condition.
- Wear appropriate clothing when working with machinery – no loose threads!
- Use the Safe Stop procedure and switch off the machine before getting out – even if it is just to open a gate.
- Consider all round viability.
- Maintain your vehicles at any costs necessary.
- Know your limits and stick to them!
Working at a height
Everyone falls over. I always fall down stairs. But falling from a height can have serious medical complications.
Top tips for height:
- Do a quick mental risk assessment before carrying out the task.
- Inform work colleagues/family so they know where to find you/what you are doing.
- Make sure the equipment is in good condition – only use ladders that are in good condition and long enough for the job.
- Avoid overhead power cables.
- Consider if the task can be carried out safely from below.
Everyone has been chased by a cow at some point in their life. But incidents involving animals can become severe quickly so it is vital that you work with animals safely.
Top tips for livestock:
- Be competent and agile – if you feel unsafe at any point tell someone.
- Have an escape route. Animals, like humans, can become aggressive, especially if offspring is involved, so you need to be able to get to safety as quickly as possible.
- Keep cattle calm when handling them & never turn your back on a bull.
- Make sure work surfaces are clean to avoid slipping.
- Always treat animals with respect – they remember bad experiences.
Children on farm
Growing up on the farm can be the best thing ever. It certainly was for me! But the farmyard is an incredibly busy place that offers many dangers for adventurous children.
Top tips for children:
- Keep track of family members and their whereabouts.
- Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency and have a prepared list of emergency numbers.
- Implement good hygiene practises in the home to stop diseases spreading.
- Have a safe and secure play area for the children to prevent them from playing near livestock/machinery. The garden is always a good starting point!
- Keep children away from moving farming machinery and vehicles.
- Keep children away from animals unless accompanied – I was bitten by a working dog when I was one!
I hope you found these top tips on how to stay safe on the farm helpful. Do you have any that you think need highlighting? If so please let me know.
To summarise, Farm Safety isn’t just a week in July. It is everyday, out and about on the farming carrying out each task.
No matter how old you are, please get involved with Farm Safety Week and help spread the message to save limbs, lives and livelihoods.
But most importantly, stay safe farming!