Royal Welsh 09: Farmer warns others after combine accident

A Welsh farmer who lost a leg after becoming trapped in a combine harvester told how his dogs raised the alarm so help could be summoned.

Robin Foord turned off the combine engine before twice clearing a blocked tank at Manor Farm, Llanvapley. But he failed to turn it off before clearing the blocked tank a third time. His foot slipped and became trapped in the auger.

“I was lucky in so much as I decided to empty the combine in the yard next to the house,” said Mr Foord. “My dogs immediately realised something was wrong and made a racket so I could get help.”

Fire and ambulance crews took almost four hours to free Mr Foord from the machine. But surgeons were later forced to amputate his right leg. The accident, which also broke his pelvis, left Mr Foord in hospital for six weeks.

The accident happened last September. This week, Mr Foord travelled to the Royal Welsh Show to urge his fellow farmers to take care when operating agricultural machinery and carrying out farm work.

“A few seconds can save a lifetime of frustration. It’s not just work things that you cannot do, it is social things as well. I used to do a lot of hill walking – not a typical pastime for a farmer, I know – but it is something I miss very much.”

Health and Safety Executive figures continue to show farming is one of the most dangerous ways to make a living. Although only 1.5% of the working population works in agriculture, farming accounts for 20% of work-related deaths.

Headline figures indicate that 26 people died in the agricultural sector during 2008/09, with a rate of 5.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers – higher than even construction or manufacturing.

HSE non-executive director Sandy Blair said: “Although these latest figures suggest that fatal injuries to farm workers are at an all-time low, there’s no getting away from the fact that there is still somebody dying needlessly every two weeks.

“A fatal or serious accident can not only destroy families it can also ruin the farm as a business, threatening a livelihood that has often been passed down through the generations.”

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