Farming still one of the most dangerous occupations

Latest figures released by HSENI have revealed that seven Northern Ireland farmers lost their lives during 2017/18.

Farming continues to have the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, and estimates also suggest around 100 non-fatal injuries requiring some form of medical treatment occur each month.

2018/19 has already tragically seen two further farm deaths with a number of other agriculture linked deaths also occurring in recent months.

The sixth annual Farm Safety Week kicks off today (Monday) with a brand new approach.

After five years of delivering Farm Safety Week, bringing together five countries over five days with ONE clear goal – to inspire behavioural change - this year’s campaign, led by award-winning charity the Farm Safety Foundation, will take a slightly different approach.

More than ever, the agricultural industry is aware of the issue of farm safety however, this year, rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will start talking about when things go right, share good practice and demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like.

It is a worrying fact that the same accidents are still happening and claiming the lives and limbs of too many of our nation’s farm workers however things are changing. Initiatives and training of the next generation of farmers means that tomorrow’s farmers are more aware, more informed and more capable of making educated decisions but awareness is one thing, the time has come for action! Hence the campaign’s challenging new strapline for 2018 – ‘It’s Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice’ and the new hero film which has been developed by the Farm Safety Foundation and will be released today on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Farm Safety Week is an initiative lead by the Farm Safety Foundation and supported by Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

The campaign aims to

· Continue to raise awareness of the farming community having one of the poorest safety records of any occupation in the UK.

• Highlight that the industry is aware of this and is working to address the issue.

• Celebrate when things go right, share good practice and demonstrate what good looks like.

• Continue to support the physical and mental wellbeing of the industry by increasing understanding of how to support those dealing with mental health issues in the industry.

HSENI fatality stats: 2018/19 - 2 farm fatalities (to date: 1 April 2018 – 11 July 2018); 2017/18 - 7 farm fatalities, 2016/17 - 6 farm fatalities; 2015/16 - 6 farm fatalities; 2014/15 - 9 farm fatalities; 2013/14 - 4 farm fatlaities; 2012/13 - 11 farm fatalities (Farm Safety Partnership established May 2012); 2011/12 - 9 farm fatalities; 2010/11 - 6 farm fatalities

“Agriculture is a critical part of our economy.” explains Ivor Ferguson, President of the Ulster Farmers Union, “But every year the HSENI reports that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in Northern Ireland. This is made even more tragic by the fact that the deaths and injuries are avoidable. The precautions to prevent people being killed and maimed on farms are well known. What farmers must do now is turn that awareness into action to keep themselves and their families safe.

“Farm Safety Week provides an opportunity for all farmers, young and old, to stop and take stock of safety on their farm. We need to build on the good work that has been done by the Farm Safety Partnership and turn that into real and sustained change in safety behaviour. Safety has to be a priority on any job – big or small – as it only takes a split second or a moment’s carelessness for a very serious, and potentially fatal, incident to happen.

“With all the farm safety partners here, and throughout the UK and Ireland, I’m urging all farmers to STOP and THINK SAFE before starting any job.”

Over the course of the week, the Farm Safety Foundation team will share a series of case studies, articles and guest blogs on the yellowwellies.org website from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This year, rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will focus on the issue of child safety on farms, the importance of physical and mental wellbeing in the industry and demonstrating what ‘good’ actually looks like.

Case studies include:

CHILD SAFETY ON FARMS - Linzi Nelson and her husband Richard from Crossgates, Fife lost their three year old son Stuart in February 2017 in a tragic accident on their farm when he was hit after running around a corner into the path of a reversing vehicle. Six weeks later another child, aged 4, was killed in a farming accident in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and Linzi wants this to stop.

MENTAL WELLBEING - The Farmers & Farmers Wives Choir from Scotland have recorded a version of Ward Thomas’ ‘Carry You Home’ which will be available on iTunes and You Tube on the Thursday (19th July) of Farm Safety Week. Choir members come from Perthshire, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Fife, Loch Lomond and Campbeltown and their message is to help raise awareness of mental health issues through the beautiful lyrics of this track which relates to reaching out and asking for help.

GOOD PRACTICE - The Growing Safer Farms initiative, lead by Devon YFC, brought together Devon’s machinery dealerships, agriculture engineers, BAGMA (British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association), The Health & Safety Executive, NFU and the Farm Safety Foundation. In 12 months the 19 dealerships and agricultural engineers have repaired and replaced over 1,000 PTO shaft guards on farm machinery.

Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity leading Farm Safety Week said: “More than ever, the industry is aware of the issue of farm safety however, this year, rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, Farm Safety Week 2018 will start talking about when things go right, share good practice and demonstrate what ‘good’ actually looks like.

“Over the past five years we have asked farmers to stop and think. We have delivered successful campaigns such as Mind Your Head and Who Would Fill Your Boots? We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice and guidance but we can’t do one thing. We can’t make farmers change their attitude.

“Only you can make that change. You have to want to change. You have to decide to change. You have to play your part. You have to take responsibility. It’s Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice!”

For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek