A couple whose three-year-old child was tragically killed in an incident on-farm have shared their story to encourage others to ‘be practical and realistic’ about farm safety.
Richard and Linzi Nelson’s son Stuart was struck by his father’s reversing vehicle while he was out playing at the home farm in Crossgates, Fife, in February last year.
Mr Nelson said he had refused to allow Stuart to ride as passenger in the cab on the farm’s forklift because he knew it was not good working practice.
The couple were always conscious of making sure Stuart was safe and supervised, he added.
Mrs Nelson said: “Stuart always loved being on the farm. His face would just light up when Richard invited him to take a walk around the farm.
“The farm can be a magical place for children, but it can also be a dangerous place where the unthinkable can happen in a matter of seconds.”
The Nelsons shared their story this week to mark the the sixth Farm Safety Week, this year branded ‘Your health. Your safety. Your choice’.
It came as the industry galvanised young people in a push to enforce a generational change, to reflect ‘what good looks like’ and inspire tomorrow’s farmers to be more aware, more informed and more capable.
Stephanie Berkeley of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Over the past five years we have asked farmers to stop and think. We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice but we cannot do one thing. We cannot make farmers change their attitude.
“Only they can make that change.”
Ms Berkeley said another big factor was the ‘health, agility and stubbornness’ of older farmers, something which this year accounted for 48 per cent of agricultural deaths.
But for young farmers, awareness of farm safety is increasing thanks to the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs Farm Safety Curve training module.
More than 100 Young Farmers clubs have already delivered the course.
Ms Berkeley added: “We want these young farmers to bring the good behaviours into the industry, start to challenge older farmers and help to address the fact farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.”
Farm Safety Week 2018
FIGURES released in conjunction with Farm Safety Week highlighted the five most common causes of farm deaths were: being injured by an animal, being struck by a moving vehicle, being trapped by something collapsing, being struck by an object and falling from height.
Yorkshire and Humber was the worst affected area with 21 per cent of fatal incidents, followed by Wales on 18 per cent and Scotland and the South West with 15 per cent.
Rick Brunt, Health and Safety Executive head of agriculture, said: “While we are seeing signs of an industry eager to improve this record, the high death rate emphasises the need for determined action by all involved in the farming industry if we are to bring about a real change to these appalling figures.
“Please do not step back and accept this as the norm for your industry.”