THE shocking headline ‘You are looking at the person responsible for your own health and safety’ next to a mirror which reflects your own image… a new farm safety ‘top tips’ booklet that contains a powerful image of an Abergavenny farmer who lost his leg in a combine harvester accident… and a team of trained farm safety mentors who will visit your farm and enable you to make your farm a safer place to work.
These are some of the hard-hitting tactics and tools which the Wales Farm Safety Partnership, a collaboration of all the key agricultural stakeholders in Wales, hope will challenge attitudes to farm safety and drive behaviour change.
The new awareness campaign, supported by Farming Connect, will begin during this year’s ‘Farm Safety Week’ (16- 20 July) when the Farm Safety Foundation will lead key organisations in the industry across the UK and Ireland to rethink their attitude to safety and remind the farmer that farming safely is your health, your safety, your choice!
The recent Health &Safety Executive Workplace Fatal Injuries in GB report 2017/2018 notes 33 fatalities, of which 29 were farm worker fatalities. Their statistics show a farm worker is now six times more likely to be killed on a farm than a building site. But unlike the UK construction industry, which has significantly reduced workforce casualty rates by making building sites safer places to work, farming has yet to catch up.
WFSP members are participating in the Farm Safety Week campaign and are determined to drive home the message that if you don’t take responsibility for your own farm safety, you could be risking your own life and the lives and wellbeing of others. And as chair of the WFSP, mid Wales farmer and H&S expert Brian Rees emphasises, it’s not just the victims who suffer, it’s their distraught families whose lives change irrevocably too.
““There are an average 32 deaths a year on British farms. A tragic 32 lives are over too soon, and 32 families are living with the consequences every day. Hundreds more individuals have life-changing injuries year on year.
“This new campaign will help persuade farmers to face up to their responsibilities, to consider not just their own safety, but that of their families and workers too.
“We must encourage all farmers to Stop, Think, Stay Safe and to take steps which will ensure their farms are safe places to work,” says Mr. Rees.
Helping farmers put this advice into practice, will be Farming Connect’s team of newly appointed Health & Safety Mentors. Part of Farming Connect’s popular mentoring programme, they will provide up to 22.5 hours of fully-funded, confidential, on-farm guidance to help farmers identify risks and eliminate hazards. Eligible farmers will be able to browse the profiles of the new mentors on Farming Connect’s online mentor directory (www.gov.wales/farmingconnect) with a filter enabling them to identify those with specialist H&S expertise.
The campaign will also be promoted by all WFSP partners attending this year’s Royal Welsh Show. In the Welsh Government pavilion, a hard-hitting message and mirror display will ask farmers to ‘look yourself in the face’ and be honest about whether they’re actually doing all they should to preserve life and limb.
Visitors will also be encouraged to pick up a free copy of WFSP’s ‘Top tips to make your farm a safer place to work’. Published by Farming Connect, the cover of this handy pocket-sized booklet shows a powerful image of Abergavenny farmer Robin Foord, who ten years ago lost his leg in a horrendous combine harvester accident and who is lending his support to the new campaign.
“It’s essential to do all we can to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of what can happen if you don’t adopt safe on-farm practices.
“I wasn’t complacent, I did practise the Safe Stop procedure set out in WFSP’s new booklet, twice, in trying to clear a blockage on an unfamiliar machine.
Unfortunately I then took a calculated risk, left the combine running and consequently got my leg trapped, resulting in a through hip amputation.”
“For me, saving a few minutes by not switching off the combine to carry out a standard procedure on an unfamiliar machine changed not only my life but that of my wife and family irrevocably,” said Mr.Foord.
“Life cannot be the same after a major life-changing accident, so I urge you to put your family first, leave the WFSP booklet on your kitchen table and seek free advice from one of Farming Connect’s mentors to make sure you are running a safe farm business.”