Top tips: Staying safe on farm

By Hannah Binns
22nd July 2019

I’m incredibly proud to be a part of British farming – it is a profession that is diverse and rewarding. But I am less proud of our safety record.

This sees farming taking the spotlight as the most hazardous industry, with a total of 32 farm related deaths occurring last year alone.

This needs tackling and is why am I supporting Farm Safety Week each and every week of the year.

It is a simple concept that can saves lives, limbs and livelihoods if implemented across UK farms.

Granted, farmers can be set in their ways, grumbling about ‘health and safety’ procedures claiming they a) take too long b) cost too much – but as the saying goes, if you play with fire you will get burned.

It is incredibly disheartening to see farmers, young and old, lose their lives doing what they love, all because of quick decisions, carelessness, or lack of awareness.

So, as young farmers, we MUST utilise our voices and shout about the importance of farm safety to our peers and seniors.

Our position as the next generation provides the perfect opportunity to promote the safety message and tackle an outdated, and quite frankly unacceptable, attitude towards health and safety.

I have put together some safety tips for all farm workers to bear in mind this week and the remaining 51! Please let me know if you can think of any more.

Tips: Transport and machinery

Perhaps unsurprisingly, transport and machinery was the biggest cause of death for farm workers last year.

  • Cover PTO shifts and make sure they are in good condition. As the saying goes, “don’t be daft, cover your shaft”!
  • Wear appropriate clothing when working with machinery – no loose threads.
  • Wear a helmet when operating ATVs.
  • Use the Safe Stop procedure and switch off the machine before getting out – even if it is only to open a gate.
  • Consider all round viability.
  • Maintain your vehicles at any costs necessary.
  • Know your limits and stick to them!

Tips: Working at a height 

Everyone falls over. I always fall up and down stairs. But falling from a height can have serious implications…

  • Do a quick mental risk assessment before carrying out the task.
  • Inform work colleagues/family so they know where to find you/what you are doing.
  • Make sure the equipment is in good condition – only use ladders that are in good condition and long enough for the job.
  • Avoid overhead power cables.
  • Consider if the task can be carried out safely from below.

Tips: Handling livestock 

Everyone has been chased by a cow at some point in their life. But incidents involving animals can become severe quickly, so it is vital that you work with animals safely.

  • Be competent and agile – if you feel unsafe at any point tell someone.
  • Have an escape route. Animals, like humans, can become aggressive, especially if offspring are involved, so you need to be able to get to safety as quickly as possible.
  • Keep cattle calm when handling them and never turn your back on a bull.
  • Make sure work surfaces are clean to avoid slipping.
  • Always treat animals with respect – they remember bad experiences.

Tips: Children on farm 

Growing up on the farm can be the best thing ever. It certainly was for me! But the farmyard is an incredibly busy place and presents many dangers for children.

  • Keep track of family members and their whereabouts.
  • Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency and have a prepared list of emergency numbers.
  • Implement good hygiene practises in the home to stop diseases spreading.
  • Have a safe and secure play area for the children to prevent them from playing near livestock/machinery. The garden is always a good starting point.
  • Keep children away from moving farming machinery and vehicles.
  • Keep children away from animals unless accompanied – I was bitten by a working dog when I was one!

It is time our industry commits to making changes on farms to save limbs, lives and livelihoods and I hope you have found these tips on staying safe on farm helpful.

But more importantly, I hope everyone stays safe farming!

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