2 July 2020
Most of us hear the words ‘stay safe’ on a daily basis these days. Since Covid-19 arrived, life has changed dramatically and it’s become even more of a priority to look after ourselves and our families.
But there is nothing new about being asked to ‘stay safe’ if you work in agriculture. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has already reported the tragic death of six Welsh farm workers this year. Each incident has wrought devastation for the families and friends left behind as they struggle to come to terms with losing a loved one. Children, teenagers, experienced farmers – every fatality adds to the shocking statistics issued by the Health and Safety Executive which has stubbornly remained at an annual average of five fatalities in Wales for the last five years. If the statistics included life-changing injuries, that figure would be considerably higher, while many more incidents undoubtedly go unreported.
Accidents have involved farm vehicles such as tractors, ATVs and telehandlers; crushing and injuries caused by animals, farm machinery, stacked bales and heavy gates; falling from heights; asphyxiation from inhaling dangerous substances; slurry pit disasters - there are too many hazards to list on almost every farmyard.
Most of the time, farmers and their families plan their work carefully, carry out routine maintenance, take care and put the necessary safety procedures in place. These are the farmers who are successfully reducing the risks to themselves, their workers and their families. For others, that momentary lapse in concentration, that tendency to cut corners, are errors of judgement which can have dire consequences.
As we head towards summer, with children and young people already spending a lot more time at home due to the Covid-19 restrictions , ‘stay safe’ is the message to all farming families from the Wales Farm Safety Partnership (WSFP), a collaboration of all the key agricultural stakeholder organisations in Wales.
WFSP ambassadors Alun Elidyr, a well-known television presenter and farmer and Ceredigion farmer, Glyn Davies, a Farming Connect health and safety mentor, say that ‘Stay safe’ is the critically important message WFSP wants to send out this summer.
“The WFSP, through Farming Connect and its partner organisations, is determined to alert the industry to the importance of taking preventative measures to help reduce the number of accidents which occur in Wales every year,” said Mr Elidyr.
Farming Connect has on its website a number of guidance booklets which highlight some of the key areas where farmers can take practical, often very simple steps, to make their farms safer. All booklets are available to download and Mr Elidyr says just a few minutes reading time could help save a life.
Through Lantra Wales, Farming Connect provides a number of training courses on topics including farm Health & Safety, First Aid and handling pesticides. Although no face-to-face training is available at the current time, check on the Farming Connect website for more information on the courses available digitally now and those that will be arranged once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted. The dates of skills application windows will also be shown.
Eligible farmers can apply for up to 15 hours of fully-funded, confidential on-farm guidance from one of the approved ‘farm health and safety’ mentors, who are part of Farming Connect’s high profile mentoring programme.
“The WFSP is intent on raising awareness to reduce the number of on-farm accidents, but to achieve that, we need farming families to work with us, to take advantage of the guidance, training and mentoring available, with much of it fully funded or subsidised by up to 80% for farmers registered with Farming Connect.
“Most farmers are aware that they sometimes take short cuts and don’t always follow the correct safety guidance, but having an expert to informally visit your farm and point out, in complete confidence, what steps you can take to minimise or eliminate risks could reduce the risk of accidents for many families,” said Mr Elidyr.
For further information and guidance on how to make your farm a safer place to work visit the following websites:
The Wales Farm Safety Partnership (WFSP) is a collaboration between all the key organisations representing agriculture and allied industries in Wales. The partner organisations are committed to working together for a safer farming industry in Wales by aspiring to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused to farmers, their families, farm employees and others who come into contact with farm activities.
Partner organisations include: Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Country Landowners Association Cymru (CLA Cymru), Farm Community Network (FCN), Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Lantra Wales, National Farmers Union Cymru (NFU Cymru), NFU Mutual, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI Cymru), Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS), Wales Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (Wales YFC), Welsh Government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE- advisory role).