NFU’s farm safety and transport adviser Tom Price explains fatal accidents can be prevented by recognising and then managing risk on-farm.
Cattle, overhead powerlines, moving vehicles and a workshop – what do these have in common?
The answer is they have all featured in fatal farm accidents in the last three months.
In April, a person died in Wiltshire whilst working in a workshop repairing farm equipment.
Two accidents have occurred in Somerset - one involving a fall from height and the second involving moving machinery.
A person lost their life in Yorkshire following contact with an overhead powerline and a person was killed in a cattle related incident in Sussex in June.
Not all the accidents have received media coverage nor are all the accident details known yet. What is known is that farmers have died in what could very well be preventable accidents.
We take a look at three major safety risks on-farm with the help of NFU Mutual’s senior health and safety consultant Neil Whatling.
Managing safety on a farm is incredibly important - there are wide-ranging implications if you have an accident.
Here’s what you can do to stay as safe as possible...
Unfortunately people get hit by vehicles quite frequently - and sometimes they run themselves over.
Try to think about 'safe stop'. When you get off a vehicle - switch it off, engage the handbrake and make sure all the controls are in neutral before you leave the vehicle.
Farmers can get complacent. They're not used to people working near them. In a perfect situation, you would have marked walkways - but this isn't always possible on-farm because of the nature of the ground.
However, you can have clear, safe ways of working in the shape of known walkways and no-go areas.
Hi-vis clothing, especially during winter, is incredibly important.
Falling from heights happens quite frequently because some people don't take the time to stop and think about the task.
If you stop and ensure you've got the right equipment, the right ladder - that's it's complete and not broken - and you plan the work, accidents could be reduced.
Ideally, you should be stopping to get the correct 'at-height' equipment. It might mean having to hire in a mobile work platform, or even a cherry picker.
When you do go to height it's important to plan what you're going to do and how you're going to do it.
Power lines should be mapped on your farm.
You should share that information with anyone who comes upon your farm - so they're also aware of the locations.
During summer, a power line can drop by half a metre. So, equipment which fits underneath it during winter, quite often won't during summer months.
If, in the unfortunate event that you do hit a power line, the actions that you take could save your life.
If you cannot drive away - stay where you are - unless it catches fire.
At that point, you must jump clear. NEVER come into contact with the ground whilst upon your machinery.
Jump clear and then bunny-hop away.
Accidents can be prevented by recognising and then managing risk. We manage risk successfully in other parts of our lives and we need to do the same at work.
Everyone knows that there is a risk of injury if a car crashes. The risk is managed by putting a seat belt on. Risks on farm such as being run by a tractor over can be managed by following the “safe stop” procedure.
The tools are available to help the industry. Help and advice is available from the NFU, the HSE and other organisations but nothing will change unless all people working in agriculture change attitudes and behaviours and make safety part of the normal every day thought process.
Farmers Guardian is supporting Farm Safety Week 2017.
This is an industry led event to raise safety awareness starting on 24 July.
The week will highlight the major causes of fatal accidents using case studies and sign post to guidance and best practice. Be part of the change in agriculture and put safety first every day.