President's Blog - 11 July 2019

Action is needed to reduce the injury and death rate on Scotland’s farms and crofts, writes NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick.

Farm Safety Week takes place this year from Monday 15 July to Friday 19 July and one of the key objectives is about encouraging those living and working in this industry to take action to drive real behavioural change.

Your mindset might be ‘that’s not my place’ or ‘it won’t happen to me’ but far too many people know someone who has suffered injury or even death as a result of an accident on a farm or croft.

Agriculture continues to have one of the worst rates in Great Britain of worker fatality rate. The risks posed to farmers and farm workers continue to grow and the agricultural sector has been high on the Health and Safety Executive’s priority list for a number of years.

Working with potentially dangerous machinery; in close proximity to livestock, vehicles and chemicals; and working at heights or near pits and silos, are just some of the risks posed to those working within agricultural.

As someone who has previously suffered an accident, I know all too well that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Two years ago, I was in a rush to get a job finished and dropped a concrete panel, crushing my foot, sustaining fractures on my toe with a lot of blood and bruising.

Had I not been in such a rush to get the panel up to get on with other things and thought how to do it a bit smarter; had l left the tractor to do the lifting at its end and put wood at my end to prop it up as it was rising; all this could have prevented my foot ending up under that slab, and my visit to accident and emergency.

It really made me think about the environment we all work in, and how simple precautions can prevent long lasting consequences that an accident can bring.

It is not just you or your workers that you need to consider, it is the impact an accident can have on your family too. Previous farm safety initiatives have focused on who would fill your boots if you were to ever have an accident – a stark but worthwhile message.

We have taken steps to look at our farm and understand how we can do better – whether that is having two people rather than one to hand to do a job more safely, understanding our obligations to one another when it comes to mental health, or having best practice in mind when driving a tractor, quad or other machinery.

Take your time and think through the job properly, don’t try to cut corners. Everyone should take responsibility for the safety of themselves and others when on a farm or croft, and it is only by working together and making real, conscious changes to how we work that the death and injury toll will start to decline. Whilst we can work as part of the Scottish Farm Safety Partnership to educate and try to drive change, it is only you who can make those changes and help us change the mindset around farm safety.

Author: Andrew McCornick

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About The Author

Andrew McCornick

Andrew, who is married with three sons and a daughter, was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. Andrew and wife Janice farm their 230+ ha unit with 160 suckler cows and 600 breeding ewes with a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. Andrew's sons farm a nearby tenanted unit which frequently provides replacement breeding stock for Barnbackle. For as long as Andrew can remember, he has been a member of the Union, and got more involved when the consultation for Nithsdale NVZ came out. From there he went onto become vice chairman of the Dumfries branch, and then onto his previous role of Regional Board Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the LFASS committee. Andrew was elected Vice President in February 2015.

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