Livestock event puts farm safety under the spotlight

First published: 27 May 2022

Farmer Richard Evans demonstrating a cattle crush

Livestock farmers are urged to put safety first at an NFU-organised event in Norfolk.

More than 30 farmers were briefed on transport rules and regulations, livestock handling, and managing public safety on rights of way, as well as sharing their own experiences and best practice.

The event, at Stonehouse Farm, West Harling, was organised by the NFU as part of a major focus on health and safety, with one other livestock event and six pre-harvest events taking place over the next few weeks. It was hosted by Richard Evans, who farms cattle and sheep with wife Sue and their four children.

NFU Farm Safety Adviser Tom Price highlighted the high fatality rate within agriculture when compared with other industries. The all-industry average for fatalities is 0.44 per 100,000 people employed but within agriculture the rate is 11.6 per 100,000 people employed.

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"Most accidents can be managed away"

“There is nothing inevitable about an accident. Most accidents can be managed away. It’s a case of looking at the business, looking at what you’re doing, looking at what can go wrong and then doing something about it,” he said.

NFU Essex County Adviser Adam Scott, who leads on livestock issues for the region, discussed ways of safeguarding the public when visiting livestock farms or using footpaths. He said that more people are visiting the countryside following the pandemic and there has also been a rise in dog ownership.

Over the past 20 years, there had been 100 deaths caused by livestock and one fifth of those were members of the public - on average one person killed every year, with many more injured.

Don't forget the risk assessment

Adam said it was important to carry out a risk assessment and to look at ways of minimising risk, keeping people and livestock apart where feasible and using information signs so that walkers were aware when entering a field with cows and calves.

“In more than 90% of HSS investigations, the risk assessment is either non-existent or inadequate. They don’t have to be complicated. It’s a case of thinking things through and getting everything down on paper,” he said.

Host farmer Richard Evans and Regional Livestock Board member Denise Thomas discussed cattle and sheep handling techniques and Richard demonstrated the facilities he has developed on the farm for his cattle and sheep.

He said that no matter how good the handling facilities on farm are, all animals are unpredictable. Animal temperament is his number one priority, which means constantly monitoring temperament and managing unsuitable animals out of the herd, but in a responsible way.

Richard said: “I was pleased to host this event. You can always learn from other people and it’s important to never stop listening and thinking about farm safety.”

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