Farm Safety Week 2016 gets underway – Who Would Fill Your Boots?

Keith Morrison
Keith Morrison

Today marks the start of the fourth annual Farm Safety Week, an initiative launched in 2013 aiming to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give agriculture the poorest record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland.

This year’s Farm Safety Week is being supported by a greater number of organisations than ever including the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), and the Health and Safety Authority, Ireland.

From quad bike accidents to animal attacks, farming kills and injures more people than any other industry in the UK and Ireland – Farm Safety Week (4-8 July) offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers, day three of which will see the announcement of the latest HSE annual workplace fatality statistics for Great Britain 2015/2016. Last year, 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is significantly higher than any other industry sector – six times higher than construction (1.62/100,000) SOURCE: RIDDOR

Keith Morrison, the chief executive of HSENI and NI Farm Safety Partnership member said: “These are not just statistics - behind each story is a grieving family, a community in shock, and a farm business which demands attention no matter what has happened.

“This year, Farm Safety Week is focusing on the power of the positive. We know that we need to engage with farmers of all ages to make farms safer places to work and live.

“On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people. Deaths or injuries occurring on farms happen much more often than they should - these accidents are often preventable through adopting simple safety practices. We need to work together so that farm safety is acknowledged as important and change ensues, and we are encouraging everyone in the industry to become farm safety champions,” he concluded.

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen MLA added her support to the week-long initiative saying: “I fully support Farm Safety Week 2016. This is a good opportunity to highlight the main hazards and risks which continue to impact on the daily lives of our farmers. I trust that this dedicated Farm Safety Week will leave a lasting positive impression on our farming industry, particularly in making farmers think about how a life changing accident also has an impact on those that surround them.”

“It is human nature to think ‘it won’t happen to me,’ but unfortunately it can,” adds the Farm Safety Foundation’s Stephanie Berkeley.

“Taking preventative, proactive measures is one of the best things we can do for our farm and workers. Most preventative practices are common sense. Tragically, most accidents are caused by simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery. This week, we hope that by hearing from other farmers about their experiences, we can ask farmers to really think about ‘Who Would Fill Your Boots?’ if something were to happen to them at work, shed some light on the necessity of farm safety and highlight practical ways to make it happen on the farm.”

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