Farm Safety Week: Farmers must improve safety
Five days – five themes
- Calling time on risk taking
- Machinery and transport
- Falls and falling objects
- The dangers of livestock
- Keeping children safe
“What we are trying to do is to get messages out there and hopefully create new ways for the people to work safely.”
“There are a lot of mitigating factors – the pressures of weather, working alone, machinery is becoming more high-tec.
“There are things like livestock, which is infinitely unpredictable.”
The constant dangers of farm work
HSE figures for Great Britain 2016/2017 showed that main causes of fatal injury in agriculture were:
- Transport-related (30%)
- Something collapsing (20%)
- Struck by objects (17%)
- Electricity (10%)
- Fall from height (7%)
- Livestock (7%)
- Contact with machinery (3%)
- Asphyxiation (3%)
- Struck against something fixed (3%)
In Great Britain, most of the agricultural fatalities occurred in the South West (23%), followed by Scotland (17%) and Wales (13%).
Farming is a vocation
Almost half of the fatalities involved workers aged over 65. Unlike other occupations, farmers don’t normally retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s.
“In farming it’s a vocation, it’s not a profession. You don’t retire at 65, it’s what you do, it’s what you love.
“The older farmers, they know they can do it the same as they did 40 years beforehand, probably taking the same risks everyday for 40 years.
“It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks”
Over the last five years, there have been two or three members of the public killed each year.
An accident at work is also an accident at home
In most cases working on a farm means that the farmer and their family are living there as well. This means that family members are also at risk. Of the three members of the public killed in a farm last year, one was a three-year-old child. This is why the fifth theme of the week was children.
“I spoke to the father of a child that was killed at the start of the year in Scotland.
“This poor man has to live with the fact his child died in its home.
“It was just the most tragic accident which resulted in this family losing their child.”
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has produced a checklist to aid farmers to keep children safe on farmland. This list includes:
- Have a safe and secure play area for young children
- Prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock
- Prevent all children under the age of 13 from riding on tractors and farm machinery
- Always keep children well away when mixing slurry
- Keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back
- Make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking
HSENI has also produced two videos, each aim at different age groups, on keeping children safe on farms.