Farm safety: 'Put words into action', NFU tells farmers

Despite an 'undeniable shift' in attitude to safety, there is still 'real changes' to be made, NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts says
Despite an 'undeniable shift' in attitude to safety, there is still 'real changes' to be made, NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts says

Farmers must 'put words into action' and commit to making safety changes on the farm, such as wearing a helmet when driving an ATV.

At the start of Farm Safety Week, the NFU is urging farmers to take extra steps and start implementing changes on their farms.

It follows the release of new figures which shows that agriculture is still the deadliest UK industry.

39 people have lost their lives on farms in one year alone, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

But farmers across the country are now ramping up their efforts to make health and safety on farm a priority.

Practical changes are being made during Farm Safety Week to ensure safer working and more resilient businesses.

The NFU has been hosting a series of workshops to advise farmers how simple changes to their farms and businesses can make a big difference.

Nearly 900 farmers have attended since the beginning of May alone.

'Undeniable shift' in safety attitudes

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said there has been an 'undeniable shift' in many farmers’ approach towards health and safety.

“The conversation around health and safety is changing, but as HSE figures have shown, conversation alone isn’t enough

“Farmers need to put their words into action and commit to making real changes on their farms, such as wearing a helmet when driving an ATV or having a secure escape route when handling cattle.”

He added: “Effective safety measures are a fundamental part of any successful business. It should not be treated as an add-on or something we do only because we have to, but rather a core part of how we look after ourselves and our businesses.”

The NFU is encouraging farmers not to limit safety to just one week of the year as farming businesses run all year round.

“To every single person that lives on, works on or visits a farm – speak up if you see any unsafe practices. We all have a responsibility to look for risks. Don’t leave it up to someone else,” Mr Roberts said.

'Another major killer'

HSE figures outline that the main causes of farm fatalities were moving vehicles, livestock and falling from height.

But farmers or farm workers who take their own lives is also another 'major killer', the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) said.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said: “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.

The group 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.