More Farm Safety Training Is Needed

cow behind a fence

Tragic Accidents In Rural Communities Can Be Avoided

Farm Safety Week highlights the importance of better accident prevention training for young farmers in the agriculture industry.

Few people consider the farming processes involved in the food that is put on their plates or the woolly jumpers they wear, but in fact many farm workers have placed themselves in dangerous circumstances to provide these essentials of everyday life. The agriculture industry accounts for around 1.5% of all workers in the UK, but this hazardous profession also makes up between 15-20% of all work-related fatalities. The most recent HSE Fatal Injuries in Agriculture Report found that 27 farmers died at work during 2015-16 and many more experienced life-changing injuries.

Tragedy Hits Rural Communities

Farmers are often taught the trade by family members and receive little or no professional safety training. Techniques that have been used for generations are passed along to future farmers with a lack of information available as to the risks involved. Tasks that may seem quick, are being hurried in unsafe circumstances, potentially in inadequate lighting by tired persons and pose a significant threat to the safety of farmers.

Sadly, tragic cases are all too common in rural communities; Peter Fisher, aged 54 years old, was an experienced farmer and a father, but he sadly lost his life when a stack of four hay bales fell off the side of the lorry he was stacking, and the impact of the crush killed him onsite. With permission from the Fisher family, Peter’s death has been highlighted by the Farm Safety Week run by the Farm Safety Foundation. A spokesperson reflects “It is human nature to think ‘it won’t happen to me,’ but unfortunately it can, especially if we continue to take risks, whether major or minor.”

How To Protect Young Farmers

The emphasis is on educating young farmers who are the future of the industry by encouraging them to take safety awareness courses. They can feed back preventative measures to their parents and employers’ farms to help instil better and safer onsite procedures. Accident scene workshops are considered to be highly effective ways of delivering safety messages. Common farming accidents such as those involving quad bikes, falling from heights, working with slurry and machinery incidents are acted out at these training events. Participants are thrown in at the deep end of an accident and they have to work out what has happened, what immediate steps must be taken including first aid, and then discuss and explore ways to ensure that the event doesn’t happen again in the future.

Create Conversations About Farming Safety

Initiatives such as the Farm Safety Foundation’s Yellow Wellies Campaign work closely with the Young Farmers Clubs alongside various other local farming organisations to spread the word about the importance of farming safety and to change attitudes towards risk-taking at work. Feedback from the target audience of farmers aged between 18 and 40 suggests that awareness is building steadily. Following participation in safety education programmes, the percentage of farmers who considered that they would think twice about taking a risk has increased from 77% before going on a course, to 90% afterwards. Similarly, 80% of young farmers had thought about injury or fatality beforehand, but this increased to 93% following training. With the right support, better information can change the habits of this industry and drive down the number of accidents and fatalities even further to protect our future farmers.