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Putting Safety in the Driving Seat

Today’s Farm Safety Week focus – machinery and transport

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries, but Ednie Farms in Peterhead has taken measures to try and reduce this.

Tuesday of Farm Safety Week focuses on machinery and transport. Poorly used or faulty vehicles and machinery are a major cause of death and injury on farms.

Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels.

In figures revealed by HSE this week, the most common cause of fatality on farms continues to involve vehicles overturning or by being struck by a vehicle.

CASE STUDY – EDNIE FARMS, PETERHEAD

Ednie Farms, an extensive farming enterprise consisting of livestock, arable renewables and forestry in Peterhead is run by husband and wife team Peter Robertson and Dr Elaine Booth, who employ two full-time employees and others part-time as and when required.
Last year, Peter read about the safety statistics for the industry, with one in particular standing out, and decided to take action. He explained: “I was looking at the safety statistics for this industry and I was shocked to see that 37 per cent of accidents on Scotland’s farms were caused by people being hurt by vehicles or machinery. I know in this area of at least two incidents recently where family members have been seriously injured by vehicles.

“I decided that to reduce the risk of that happening on our farms we needed to take action, and we put in place a hi-vis policy, where anyone, no matter their age or purpose, who comes onto the farm must wear a hi-vis jacket or hi-vis boiler suit.  

“We’ve invested in those for our employees and family, and when we have schoolchildren on the farm we ensure every single one of them wears one. This policy is widespread in nearly every other manual labour industry, such as the buildings and construction sector, so why should agriculture be any different?

“We often work in challenging conditions – late into the night, in dark sheds, or at a pace to try and get jobs finished, and any small measures our industry can take to make their farms and crofts safer, is a huge step to reducing the accident and death toll that our industry has such a bad record of.

Elaine adds: “We spoke with our employees and family at the time and talked through the reasons for implementing this policy, and they were fully supportive. And it has proved effective. When I went to one of our forestry sites recently, the contractor admitted that he had seen me far in the distance because I was wearing hi-vis, and not just when I was up closer to the machinery. He was aware I was nearby and was able to easily keep an eye on where I was as he worked and stop as he saw me approaching.”

The team agree that it has made workers across the whole business much more aware of those working around them, making the farm a safer place to live and work.

“You can get hi-vis for so little these days” says Peter. “It really is a very simple, cost effective, but yet highly useful way of making our farms and working environment safer and I certainly think others should be considering implementing this policy on their farms.”

According to Martin Malone from Farm Safety Partnership Scotland: “Machinery and transport continue to be the main causes of life changing and life ending injuries on farms.

“In fact 40 per cent of all farm workers who have lost their lives in agriculture over the past decade were workplace machinery-transport related. Whilst this year we have seen an improvement in the numbers of farmers losing their lives as a result of machinery and transport, the fact is that one death is one too many.   

“Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident. The team at Ednie Farms are absolutely right – reminding farmers that farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan seems like the right thing to do this week, given the culture of risk raking in the industry. One day your luck could run out.

“Agricultural machinery may be advancing with safety features but it is still dangerous so please take a minute to use the SAFE STOP approach - ensure tractors, telehandlers and associated equipment is switched off when doing routine tasks or making routine checks and maintenance and take your time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”

Notes to Editors

  • Farm Safety Week is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland. For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek
  • For members of the press who would like to arrange an interview, either with Farm Safety Partnership Scotland or with those featured, or for photographs, email media@nfus.org.uk
  • About Farm Safety Week: Farm Safety Week started in 2013 and struck a chord with the farming community with the initiative being recognised by 56 per cent of the farming community according to recent Voice of the Farmer research*. It has grown to include England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland; five countries with a single purpose; to reduce deaths and serious injuries in agriculture. Voice of the Farmer interviewed a sample of 1,800 farmers across the UK in April 2017, matched to UK profile of all farms by country and farm size
  • The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) Scotland brings together some of the key stakeholders with an interest in farm safety in Scotland. The Partnership comprises The Scottish Government, NFU Mutual, NFU Scotland and Health & Safety Executive.


Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 101/17


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About The Author

Ruth McClean

Having worked in the communications and journalism industry for the last 11 years, NFU Scotland’s Communications Manager Ruth McClean understands the needs of journalists and has extensive knowledge of the wider agricultural industry. After growing up in Argyll and Bute and working in the area as a reporter for local newspapers for eight years, Ruth joined NFU Scotland in 2013 in her current role. She is also Editor of the Union’s membership magazine the Scottish Farming Leader.

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