Farm safety has to be the responsibility of us all

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is encouraging everybody involved with the farming industry to heighten their awareness of farm safety issues.

This year’s annual Farm Safety Week runs from 15 to 19 July and provides an opportunity to shine a light on the safety record of our industry and to concentrate on practical ways of preventing accidents and fatalities on farms.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said “Each and every accidental death on farms is a tragedy for the families, work colleagues, and friends of the deceased. With the Health and Safety Executive reporting that there were 39 fatalities on farms over the past 12 months and 3690 non-fatal accidents – twice the all industries figure – we all need to do a lot more to prevent accidents from occurring on farms.

”Whilst every farming situation will be different and require bespoke risk assessments, there is a lot of general advice that will be applicable to every farm business including properly planning activities, using well-maintained equipment, allowing enough time, having the correct protective clothing and having measures in place for lone workers.“

We all must take responsibility to call out poor or dangerous practices on farms. Given the stresses and strains that occur in everyday farming life, it can be tempting to take shortcuts, particularly at busy times of the year. Whether it’s dealing with livestock, using farm machinery or working at height, everyone needs to take a little more time to think about the safety issues.”

As well as thinking more about our physical safety it is also important that we take into consideration the mental well-being of friends, colleagues and family members on farms.“

Death by suicide in agriculture is another major killer. Isolation, stress, anxiety, and depression are all contributing factors. We need to think about these things in the way we treat people as we carry out our various roles in the industry. Some landlords’ agents have a lot to learn in that respect. It is too often the case that tenant farmers feel that landlords’ agents take an overly aggressive approach and spoil good working relationships with landlords,” said Mr Dunn.“

Organisations like the Farming Community Network and RABI are great at what they do, but they are no substitute for the networks of close friends, colleagues and family members who can look out for and support one another through difficult times and where appropriate signpost to more specialist help,” said Mr Dunn.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.