It’s farm safety week - and dairy farmer Helen Banham has spoken out after losing two fingers in a bottling machine incident.
Helen, a dairy farmer from Rich Pastures Farm, where she and her husband David bottled and sold their milk, lost two of her fingers in a machine four years ago.
A bottle dropped through the machine and, instinctively, without thinking or turning off the bottling line, she reached into the machine to grab it.
Helen’s right hand was trapped in the machine; her thumb was severed and a spike penetrated the palm of her hand.
She pulled her hand free and in doing so, ripped her hand open, severely and irrevocably damaging the tendons of her third finger.
Helen is now warning people how taking risks at work can change your life and business forever.
She told The Lincolnshire Reporter: “It was our wake-up call.
“I know I was on auto-pilot, but we were both working full-on, just trying to stay ahead of the game, doing more and more ourselves and pushing ourselves to the limit.”
Helen’s husband and business partner David added: “We did know that the machine needed to have some guards added; that was the stupid thing about it.
“The trouble with farming is that you’re always a jack of all trades and constantly juggling jobs and we wanted so much for the milk processing part of the business to work, so perhaps we didn’t have our eye on the safety side of things as we should have done.”
Farm Safety Week
This comes as farming leaders criticised the industry for its failure to recognise farm safety as a daily practice.
With agriculture continuing to hog the top spot of work-related deaths, the Farm Safety Foundation has encouraged farmers to identify farm safety as a lifestyle, ‘not a slogan’.
It came as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released an update on the figures reported earlier in the month.
Of the 27 farmers who died, about half were older than 65 but the range hit from three to 80. Vehicle related activities continued to be the highest cause of death, with livestock a close second when considering the annual average.
The highest affected regions were the south-west with seven deaths, and Scotland with five.