In his hard-hitting and brave retelling of the fall that changed his life, farmer and auction mart director Trevor Wilson has laid bare the profound impact an on-farm health and safety incident can have on an individual and those around them.
Mr Wilson’s story will no doubt be recognisable to any individual (or wider family) who has had to deal with the repercussions of such an incident whether that is, as in this case, a fall from a shed, or perhaps someone struggling with work-related ill health which means they can no longer drive a business forward as they once did.
Such events are made even more complicated by the very nature of farming and the way
businesses in this sector are run, or the ties that bind those working in what are often multi-generational enterprises.
Stories such as Mr Wilson’s must act as an urgent wake-up call to the farming industry as it continues to toil in the face of unacceptable levels of on-farm death and serious injury. When farming accounts for so little of the overall UK workforce, to be accountable for 20 per cent of all workplace deaths remains a grim statistic.
Attitudes to risk also have to change. While there will always remain freak incidents which cannot be mitigated, it remains an industry in which health and safety threats are dismissed all too flippantly, whether that is clambering onto an ATV without a helmet on, or letting children into potentially dangerous places on-farm at busy times.
But there are some reasons for optimism and, ahead of Farm Safety Week on July 20-24, it is
encouraging to hear that the younger generation of farmers are more keenly engaged with the health and safety agenda and associated risks.
Farming cannot simply carry on with the mindset that everything ’will be alright’, especially when it is often not the person directly afflicted by the health and safety incident who has to pick up the pieces, both emotionally and professionally, longer term.