Farm Safety Week - A life-changing lapse of concentration

farm safety week 2015 logo_275_219This year’s Farm Safety Week is being supported by a greater number of organisations than ever including the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnership, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

From falls and transport to child safety – Farm Safety Week (6-10 July) offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance.

It comes just after the HSE released the annual workplace fatality statistics for Great Britain.

#farmsafetyweek graphic, farm safety week, healthSome 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, the same as the average of 33 deaths in the past five years and, unfortunately, an increase from the 27 deaths recorded in 2013/14.

Today’s focus: Farm vehicles

Thomas Price, NFU and Farm Safety Partnership England member, said: “Today’s focus is transport and sadly, over the last ten years, 29% of all farm related fatalities have been due to vehicle overturns and people being struck by moving vehicles on England’s farms.

"All terrain vehicles, including quad bikes, can have fatal consequences if best practice is not adhered to. Even when it is, there is always the possibility that accidents can happen - but you can take steps to reduce those chances and best protect yourself should an issue occur.

“Roger’s story below highlights that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from transport-related accidents. Working with ATVs, forklift trucks, lorries and transport of all types is an ever-present danger on farms.  Don’t learn safety by accident. Take the time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”

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farm safety week - keeping children safe, farm veh

Roger's story...

Experienced farmer Roger James lost concentration and hence control of his quad bike whilst riding up a slope on his Powys farm and ended up underneath it.

paramedic and ambulance, farm safety week, emergenRoger admits that a moment’s inattention changed his, and his family’s life forever.

“99 times out of 100 I wouldn’t have gone up that slope on the quad bike,” he said.

“I just wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing for those few seconds.  I did it without thinking.  Basically, I shouldn’t have been there.”

Roger was herding cows on his farm at the time. Before moving the herd, he set off on his quad bike to check out the new field. With a number of tasks in mind his attention slipped, just for a moment, from steering the machine along an appropriate route. 

That fleeting loss of concentration meant he found himself riding up a slope instead of continuing his approach on level ground.  The result was sudden and dramatic.  The slope was too steep for the vehicle’s stability. It tipped backwards and upended, throwing Roger on to the ground behind.  As he lay there, stunned and unable to move, the tumbling machine landed on him.  Half a tonne of falling metal hit Roger’s unprotected body and smashed his pelvis. He wasn’t wearing protective headgear so, serious as his injuries were, he considers himself lucky they weren’t even worse.

“Only the previous week I’d got myself a mobile phone, and that was the life saver, really,” he added.

Despite his stunned state he managed to dial 999 for help, and also to ring his wife and son.  His family members quickly located him, closely followed by a paramedic team in a first-response vehicle. The paramedics quickly assessed the situation and called for an air ambulance. In a commendably short time Roger was airlifted to hospital.

Roger spent eight days in traction before being transferred to University Hospital, Coventry for surgery. He then spent a further seven days in hospital and the following three months confined to bed. But the consequences of that momentary lapse are permanent.  Roger’s injury has left him in constant pain with limited mobility. 

Roger had always been aware of the risks in the agricultural profession. 

“We spend our days working on our own in remote locations. We’re constantly handling powerful machines. And these days we’re doing more and more multi-tasking. 

"It’s vital to keep your mind on the job. I’ve had years of experience, and my motorbike background gave me even more capability with quad bikes. Yet that brief lapse of concentration took me and the bike where we shouldn’t have been.  Now I’m suffering the consequences.”

Read more about Roger's story here.

Last edited on: 08:07:2015

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