30 people were killed within the agricultural, forestry or fishery sectors in the UK during 2016 to 2017.

Those were the startling facts shared with Welsh farmers during a Farming Connect event at Coleg Amaethyddol Glynllifon near Caernarfon, Gwynedd recently.

9 farmers are killed on farms in the UK per 100,000 workforce compared to 1.5 within the construction industry.

“The industry realises that we have a problem, but individual farmers busy out and about on their farms day in day out are reticent to see that changes need to be made,” explains Brian Rees, Chair of Wales Farm Safety Partnership who led the event.

Attendees were given the opportunity to see real life practical sessions bought from the farmyard to the event at Glynllifon. And farmers commented how successful and useful the sessions during the day had been, as they split into smaller groups to learn more at different safety stations during the event.

Safe handling of livestock and diminishing risk of accidents were demonstrated using a cattle crush on site during one of the group sessions. Others were given an insight into how to operate an ATV or quad bike effectively, by using your own body weight to adjust and counter balance steep hills and rocky terrain. Farm machinery and a tractor was used at the third safety station, to demonstrate how best to stay safe whilst working the machinery and handling dangerous chemicals whilst spraying on the farm.

Dyfan Parry Jones a young farmer from Maesteran, Penegoes, near Machynlleth said: “We heard a story from one of the trainers about a PTO accident, and how a farmer lost his whole arm in a freak accident. It happened in a second.

“He stressed to us, the importance of safe STOP, where you’re advised to switch off the tractor engine when jumping off to check implement settings or detaching a machine. That story will certainly stay with me.”

Gwyndaf Roberts a beef and sheep farmer from Llanllyfni, Dyffryn Nantlle said: “The training was much more than I was expecting. It gave us a real insight to issue that affects us on farms. I was particularly interested in learning about the cattle handling system, and the tips and advice that was offered to us.

Young farmer, Edward Rhys Evans who farms with his family at Dysyrnant, Cwm Maethlon in Tywyn said: “The quad bike training was really useful. It advised us how to stop anything untoward from happening when travelling down steep inclines. It’s something I will take away with me when I’m back home working the land.”

For Huw Thomas, a beef and sheep farmer from Meillionydd Bach, near Aberdaron, Pen Llŷn, attending a Farming Connect event was a first for him: “I was impressed by the fact that the trainers spoke to us as it is, in reality out on a farm. They obviously had experience of farm work and were level headed in their approach.

“I could identify with the comment that many of us don’t realise we’re getting older and can’t move as swiftly as we used to as 20-year-old lads! I’ve had experience of being in tricky situations with cattle in a shed, and I certainly don’t check my freshly calved cattle on the farm by myself these days. I make sure my son or someone else is with me. It’s just not worth the risk when you know some of the cattle are flighty.”

The event at Glynllifon was part of a two-day Farming Connect training programme, with another day offering farmers in South Wales the opportunity to attend the health and safety training at Coleg Gelli Aur, Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire.

“We were delighted by the response from farmers across Wales,” explains Sara Jenkins, Development Manager for Farming Connect, the programme run on behalf of the Welsh Government by Menter a Busnes.

“We have received some great partnership support to host these events from the Welsh Government, FUW, NFU Cymru, RABI and FCN. Health and Safety is certainly an issue that needs addressing within the industry, and we are grateful to Coleg Gelli Aur and Coleg Glynllifon for their support in hosting these events. More events are already in the calendar, so I’d urge anyone interested in attending to register their interest soon.”

Brian Rees, Chair of Wales Farm Safety Partnership said: “Our sessions may just prove to be a life-saver for some farmers as we showed that there are many ways in which you can reduce the risks of accidents and injuries to you, your family and employees.

“It’s a fact that children who are killed in an accident involving a farm machine are killed in the path that runs from a farmhouse door to the machine itself. Visibility whilst sitting on a machine is a dominant factor, as small children cannot be seen at a certain level. Unfortunately, these tragic circumstances are continuing to occur on UK farms.

“We must also remember that individuals visiting farms, be they vets, professional advisers or people delivering goods, are the responsibility of the farm owner. Minimise risk as far as possible, so everyone working or visiting that farm is as safe as practically possible.”

Two further ‘Saving Lives and Livelihoods’ events have been arranged by Farming Connect in conjunction with the Wales Farm Safety Partnership as follows, both events will be held between 13:00 and 16:00:

Tuesday 28th August 2018

Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys. LD3 3SY

Wednesday 29th August 2018

Rhuthin Livestock Market, Rhuthin, LL15 1PB

For further information, please visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect or call 08456 000 813, or email farmingconnect@menterabusnes.co.uk

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