Friday, December 15, 2017

Farmers urged to stay safe this harvest

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farmers and farm workers are being urged to stay safe this harvest following accident statistics showing that agricultural has a fatality rate 18 times higher than the industry average.

Health and Safety Executive workplace fatality statistics released last month show 27 people died in farm-related accidents last year – two fewer than the previous 12 months but still far higher than the all-industry UK average.

National workforce

Farming, forestry and horticulture employ about 1% of the national workforce but the risk of falling from heights or being struck by a falling object account for nearly 30% of all farming fatalities, said Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation.

Transporting and stacking large hay bales has, over recent years, resulted in numerous injuries to farm workers – and the death of some operators using machinery or close to bales being stacked or moved using heavy equipment.

Ms Berkeley said “Most accidents of this type happen either because the work is not properly planned, the risks are not recognised, proper precautions are not taken, or the equipment used is either defective, not appropriate, or used incorrectly.”

Life changing accident

After losing two fingers on her right hand in a life changing accident with a bottling machine four years ago, Lincolnshire dairy farmer Helen Banham is all too aware of how easily a risk someone has taken “a million times before” can change a life and farm business forever.

Very early on the morning of 12 December 2012, Mrs Banham was working at Rich Pastures Farm, Thorpe St Peter, Skegness, where she and her husband David bottled and sold their milk to local shops and supplied local businesses under their Rich Pastures Dairy label.

As Mrs Banham was going about her daily routine, a bottle dropped through the machine. Instinctively, she reached into the machine to grab it without turning off the bottling line – trapping her hand, severing her thumb and costing her two fingers.

“It was a wake-up call,” says Mrs Banham, who says the couple had been working long hours to try to make money from milk. “I was on auto-pilot, but we were both working full-on, just trying to stay ahead of the game, doing more and more ourselves and pushing ourselves to the limit.”

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