The Pub Landlord Calls Time on Risk Taking in Farming

Farm Safety Week 2017 kicks off today in joint UK initiative

As his alter ego, the nation's critically acclaimed bar-based-braveheart, The Pub Landlord, Al Murray has always been full of fantastic anecdotes and he knows how to tell a story. However, he has only now revealed his role in saving a young farmworker’s life when he was 12.

And as this year’s Farm Safety Week gets underway from Monday 24 July until Friday 28 July, Al, alongside farmers from across Scotland, tell their stories about accidents they have been involved in.

And to mark the occasion, HSE has announced its latest annual fatal injuries in agriculture report for Great Britain 2016/2017. From quad bike accidents to animal attacks, agriculture still kills and injures more people than any other industry in the UK and Ireland. Last year, 30 people were killed in agriculture, compared with 29 the year before. In Scotland for 2016/2017, there were five fatalities in the agricultural industry, down by three deaths on the previous fatality average of eight from 2012/13 to 2016/17. The most common cause of fatality involved vehicles overturning or being struck by a vehicle.

Telling his tale, Al, has until now, not admitted the role he played when 18-year-old farm worker Chris Brown got his right arm trapped in a baler on a farm in Walsham le Willows, near Bury St Edmunds but has agreed to tell his story to support the fifth annual Farm Safety Week.

Al had been holidaying on his cousin’s farm during harvest time and had spent the day playing in the fields while his father helped out with the combining. As Al was cycling back to the farmhouse, he heard cries for help coming from near one of the many machines in the field where he spied a young farm worker, trapped in a baler, in pain and losing a lot of blood.

In a scene reminiscent of one of his alter egos tall tales the 12-year-old Al tried to pull the trapped teen out of the machine by his boots. Realising this tactic wouldn’t work, Al asked what he could do to help and was talked through the shutdown procedure for the machine by Chris. Al managed to stop the machine then raise the alarm and brought his father who dismantled the machine to dislodge the trapped arm and tourniquet the injury before the ambulance arrived to take Chris to hospital.

Thankfully this tale has a happy ending and the young farmworker did not lose his arm however this does highlight the constant dangers of working with machinery and the importance of following the SAFE STOP procedure. As Chris, himself admits: “I knew I was breaking every safety rule by not turning off the machine but, at 18 years of age, I was more concerned about getting my hair stuck in the baler than my arm!”

Fast forward nearly 40 years and the same accidents are still happening and claiming the lives and limbs of too many of our nation’s farm workers. Today marks the start of the fifth annual Farm Safety Week, and this year’s Farm Safety Week is being supported by a greater number of organisations than ever including the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

“Agriculture is a critical part of our economy.” explains Rick Brunt, Head of Agriculture, Waste and Recycling Sector, Health & Safety Executive. “But every year we have to report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. This is made even more tragic by the fact that the deaths and injuries are avoidable. The precautions to prevent people being killed and maimed on farms are well known and can be easily applied.”

Despite over half of all fatal injuries occurring with older farmers over the age of 65, the fact remains that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, and speaking on behalf of Farm Safety Partnership Scotland, commented: “Farming as an industry is absolutely vital to the UK economy – it is the bedrock of our food and drink industry.

“On a farm or croft, as with any business, the number one resource is the people so why is it that year on year we are seeing these hard working and dedicated workers suffering life changing and life ending accidents?

“Many farmers think ‘farm safety last’ rather than ‘farm safety first’ but most of these accidents are avoidable. Unlike other occupations, our farmers and crofters don’t normally retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s. Simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery contribute to this perfect storm but this Farm Safety Week, we hope that by hearing the stories of other farmers and crofters and extraordinary people like Al Murray who have had personal experience of  accidents, we can get farmers of all ages to realise that this week, and every week, farm safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan.”

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 or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek
  • Visit for the full breakdown of agricultural fatality statistics, including those release today.
  • For members of the press who would like to arrange an interview, either with Farm Safety Partnership Scotland, with Mr McCornick, or for photographs, email
  • 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.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 100/17

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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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