Farm safety must remain part of 'business as usual'

Will Dickinson checks the integrity of his tractor and trailer each morning_59527Working safely to combat the risks from Covid-19 is at the top of the agenda, but the need for business as usual safety is always there.

Tom Price, NFU's Farm Safety and Transport Policy Adviser writes:

Cattle, ATVs and tractors– what do these three have in common?

The answer is that they have all featured in a spate of fatal farm incidents in April and May 2020.

Incidents involving ATVs have been reported in Devon, Wales, and the Lake District. Cattle related incidents have been reported in Wales, Gloucestershire, and Buckinghamshire. Lives have been lost in Yorkshire and Wales following a tractor overturn and where a person was trapped by machinery.

Not all the accidents have received media coverage, nor are all the accident details known yet. What is known is that farmers and farm workers have died in what may very well be preventable accidents.

Accidents can be prevented by identifying and then managing risk. We manage risk successfully in other parts of our lives and we need to do the same at work. Everyone knows that there is a risk of injury if in a car crash. The risk is managed by putting a seat belt on. Risks on farm, such as being run over by a tractor, can be managed by following the “safe stop” procedure.

Arguably everyone is aware of the need to manage the risks to safety presented by Covid-19. But while we all focus on staying safe from Covid-19, farming must keep a very firm control on all the business as usual risks that must be managed every day.

Tools are available to help manage agricultural health and safety.

Help and advice is available to members in a range of free to access Business Guides on Health and Safety and from the CallFirst advice line on 0370 845 8458.

Information on safety issues commonly encountered on farm is available from the HSE.

Help on completing a risk assessment and template risk assessment documents from the HSE are available here.

Government advice on Working safely during Covid-19 is available here and from the NFU Coronavirus Hub