L-R: Jim Chapman and NFYFC members get lessons in farm safety
Research which suggests more than half of young farmers claim to take risks which put themselves or others in danger has prompted a new initiative to drive home the safety message.
Farming continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK; however the Farm Safety Foundation is working closely with the NFYFC, Health & Safety Executive and the Farm Safety Partnerships of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to address attitudes among young farmers.
Ultimately the aim is to encourage farmers aged between 16 and 40 to think about safety in the hope that the number of accidents decrease and lives are saved.
The Farm Safety Foundation was established by NFU Mutual in 2014 as a charity to engage the farmers of the future to raise awareness of, and change attitudes to, farm safety.
The charity is introducing a new 90-minute safety training session which is designed to be delivered by younger farmers to their peers within Young Farmers’ Clubs.
Stephanie Berkeley, farm safety campaign specialist, said: “Recent research suggests that although 92% of young farmers feel well informed about farm safety 56% of those surveyed claim to take risks. This is an alarmingly high level and more work will be required to help stigmatise this risk taking behaviour.”
Over the past few months, the foundation has worked with NFU Mutual’s Risk Management Services Ltd to develop a curve module for NFYFC to allow farm safety training to be introduced at YFC club level.
The session includes group activities, discussions and videos from ambassadors who have been affected by a life changing farm accident.
This educational resource will allow the foundation to engage with YFC members who have left college or have pursued a vocational route into the industry, increase awareness of the campaign and receive valuable feedback from participants.
The aim of The Curve: Farm Safe course is to equip young farmers with a number of skills.
At the end of the session they will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of farm safety
- Understand the first aid and first response implications of farming accidents
- Describe the process and skills required to make a particular task safe
- Demonstrate how to assess a farming task, identify potential risks and implement preventative measures
- Understand the consequences of having a serious farming accident.
Stephanie said: “As well as introducing key health and safety messages and statistics, the training course encourages young farmers to play an active role in discussing farm safety issues. By discussing these issues in a forum of their peers, we hope the young farmers will contribute insights from their own experiences as well as learn from each other.”
Case study - Jim Chapman
A key part of the training session centres on real examples of people whose lives have been impacted by farming accidents.
One case study features Jim Chapman, a Warwickshire farmer and former National Chairman of NFYFC. He was only 23 years old when he lost his arm in a farming accident while helping processing green waste on a friend’s farm in January 2005.
He said: “It was a very cold Friday morning and I arrived early to begin the job which would involve using a shredder for the waste. As it happened the first machine I tried to start up had a flat battery and there was a problem with the second machine too so it was a frustrating beginning to the work day.”
Jim was asked to empty water from underground storage tanks using a tractor and vacuum tanker but having got things up and running was alerted to the fact the water wasn’t being sucked up the pipe.
When he leaned over the tractor to check with his hand if the exhaust was working, the fluorescent safety vest he was wearing was caught up in the PTO shaft.
He said: “I remember putting out my hands to resist being pulled in and get myself out of the machine. But in a split second the vest was wrapped around the shaft. I was flung from where I had been standing right over the top of the tractor. The PTO shaft had ripped all my clothing, shirt and jumper and my left arm completely off.”
What followed was a frightening and traumatic period for Jim as he was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in Birmingham to undergo emergency surgery. Unfortunately medics were unable to reattach his arm.
After a long road to recovery which involved overcoming significant physical and mental challenges, Jim has become a leading figure in the campaign for farm safety. He has been awarded an MBE for his services to farm safety and has also been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship to visit other countries in an attempt to get some understanding of the global issue of farm safety.
He concludes: “If you are tempted to rush with an urgent job stop, take stock and measure the cost of cutting a safety corner against the risks of losing a limb or even your life. The risk taken is not worth it because there can be no going back once the unexpected happens.”
For more information about the Farm Safety Foundation, visit www.yellowwellies.org
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