Farmer Focus: We take health and safety very seriously

We managed to survive Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis relatively unscathed.

The only damage we saw was that the ends of three tents, which we used to house some of the dry sows, were blown in.

We take these ends off in the spring to allow plenty of fresh air to blow through. We then refix them in the autumn to keep the sows nice and cosy as the cooler weather comes.

See also: How to AI sows and improve conception rates

Last autumn, I thought we could use cable ties instead of the usual strapping to tie the end to the framework, and it was so much easier than it has been in the past.

Unfortunately, the cable ties aren’t as strong as I thought they would be, and 60mph+ winds snapped some of them.

As it was my idea to use the cable ties, I was lifted up in our purpose-built box to retie them (the others are scared of heights).

As a large farming company, we take the health and welfare of our employees very seriously.

We have an employee committee that meets twice a year to discuss any issues, and managers meet twice a year to discuss topics brought up by employees and any near misses.

Both these meetings are chaired by Kim Beavon, an NFU health and safety consultant, who keeps us all on our toes regarding legislation.

When I look back to the total lack of health and safety awareness in my early years in agriculture there has been a massive improvement.

The stupid thing about the farming industry is that we can’t pass the extra cost of getting our business in order in terms of health and safety and employee welfare on to our customers, as in other industries.

We produce a product and we have to except whatever they will give us for it.

As an example, in our case, we no longer allow any lone working. Instead of me checking our 2,000 finishers in straw yards, which usually takes one-and-a-half hours/day, we now have to have two people doing this, which still takes one-and-a-half hours, but three staff hours overall, which means more labour cost.

David Owers is a Farmer Focus writer in Lincolnshire. Read his biography.