When I was on my college work placement, a co-worker once said I looked like Crazy Frog when I had my crash helmet on.
The comment made me feel weirdly proud. However. I’d obviously made an impression by consistently wearing the helmet.
A cousin of my mum had a fatal quad bike accident so I’d had it drilled into me from a young age to wear one, and I was only too aware of how many farm accidents involved quad bikes. I was always strict about this.
With Farm Safety Week, spearheaded by the Farm Safety Foundation (aka Yellow Wellies), running from 19-23 July, I’d ask everyone to remember a helmet is a simple, easy and inexpensive way to help protect yourself against a critical injury if you’re in an ATV accident.
The foundation points out that the most common cause of farm fatalities in 2020 was overturning vehicles, and that only one in three farmers say they use a helmet.
A change in attitude towards safety in our industry is needed. I challenge you to lead by example by having good animal handling systems and techniques, acting safely when handling and stacking bales, avoiding cutting corners and not being afraid to call out bad practice.
Other industries, such as construction, have “zero-harm” policies. For many years they have had government-funded training for their workforce, and health and safety is prioritised over work efficiency.
The truth is, houses may be more expensive as a result, so we have to accept there may be a cost to a safer workplace. But in agriculture, we’ve tended to focus on efficiency and output, all too often marginalising safety concerns.
As a diversification, my dad runs a Lantra agricultural training centre, so I know how valuable courses such as telehandler, ATV and PA1, PA2 and PA6 are, giving people the information and skills to be safer, more competent operators.
There are many bursaries to apply for that can help pay for courses and those coming into the industry should seek them out so they start off their career on the right foot.
After all, you can’t put a value on coming home safely at the end of a working day.