Farmed and dangerous?

Date published: 05 July 2016

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.

Farm Safety Week 2016

Farm Safety Week’s Tuesday theme is Machinery - poorly used or faulty machinery being a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers.

Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels. 

Machinery accidents can be prevented by keeping the machine in good repair, fitting and ensuring all safety equipment (such as guards, safe access platforms and ROPS on tractors) is operating correctly at all times, and not taking risks when working with powerful machinery.

According to Barclay Bell, President of the Ulster Farmer’s Union (UFU):

“Over the course of this week, we will have five days, five themes and five countries with one very clear question – “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” if you were to have a farm accident. The initiative is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland and aims to educate and inspire a drive to improve agriculture’s poor safety record.

“As a farmer myself I know that almost everyone in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident, and the reality is that many of these accidents are preventable by sticking to safety rules.

“This Farm Safety Week we are joining forces with our counterparts in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland to warn against complacency at work. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. Make sure you use the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ approach and remember that you are the most important asset on your farm. Farmers need to take care of themselves so that their families don’t have to cope without them because of poor physical or mental health, serious injury - or worse. Ensure PTO guards are correctly used and maintained and always take your time to think about what you are doing as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”

Notes to editors: 

About Farm Safety Week

  1. Farm Safety Week 2016 is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland.
  2. The Campaign aims to highlight the serious dangers posed by farms and offers themed practical advice and guidance for farmers. This year Farm Safety Week urged farmers to consider “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” if something were to happen to them, or to a family member. Farm Safety Week 2016 focuses on five themes over the five days: Falls, Machinery, Livestock, Transport, Children.
  3. Farm Safety Week started in 2013 and struck a chord with the farming community with the initiative being recognised by 60% of the farming community according to recent Voice of the Farmer research*. It has grown to include England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; five nations with a single purpose; to reduce death and serious injuries in agriculture. *Voice of the Farmer interviewed a sample of 1200 farmers across the UK in April 2016, matched to UK profile of all farms by country and farm size.
  4. The Farm Safety Partnership, which comprises the HSENI, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU Mutual (NFUM), the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA), is tasked with assisting Northern Ireland’s farming community to work safely and tackle the problem of work-related fatalities and injuries on farms.  The partnership is chaired by George Lucas, chairman of HSENI. 
  5. The Farm Safety Partnership’s ongoing ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ farm safety campaign focuses on the four main causes of death and injury on our farms – slurry, animals, falls and equipment (SAFE).
  6. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, sponsored by the Department for the Economy (DfE).
  7. HSENI is the lead body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of health and safety at work standards in Northern Ireland.

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