How a false leg inspired a farm safety campaign

With Farm Safety Week set to start next week, farmers have been challenging each other to make 30 farm safety improvements in 30 days.

It all started after Cheshire milk producer Phil Latham used his grandfather’s prosthetic leg to highlight the dangers of farm work. 

The false limb belonged to the late Len Latham, who lost his real leg in the 1930s after it developed gangrene when a shire horse stood on his foot.

See also: Major push for farm safety as harvest hots up

Mr Latham brought the false limb to an NFU council meeting last month, inspiring Hertfordshire farmer Stuart Roberts to issue the “Len’s Leg Challenge” – pledging to make 30 safety improvements in 30 days on his farm – and challenging other farmers to do the same.

A prosthetic leg from the 1930s

Len Latham’s false leg © Billypix

The challenge has seen farmers sharing dozens of safety tips on Twitter with the hashtag #LensLeg. Here are 20 of the best suggestions:

  1. A simple one to start with: I’ve checked our emergency contact numbers are up to date. The original for  EDF I had was from 2010.
  2. We’ve made signs to go on all grain stores, asking lorry drivers to keep out while the loader is running. Hopefully, they will still help sweep up when it isn’t running. 
  3. Irrigation pipes and power lines can be a deadly combination. Always know where power lines are – it may be dark – and always keep pipes low.
  4. Like many ideas, this is one I hope I never need: we’ve put laminated cards with farm locations and their grid references in every vehicle. Just in case.
  5. For ages we’ve struggled with, ignored or turned a blind eye to a dodgy start/stop button on the main grain auger. Not anymore.
  6. We’ve started a “near miss” board to report near misses. We record them, discuss them weekly as a team and hopefully then prevent accidents.
  7. Today’s job: installing the first part of new grain handling equipment – using lifts and harness to working at height safely.
  8. I have today sorted out our silage clamp signs, which include some simple, clear safety tips.
  9. A relatively easy one this morning: make sure the workshop and farm office have antibacterial gel in addition to soap and water.
  10. Dig out the health and safety policy, create records so everyone in the team can sign to say they’ve read it and will comply. No roof work. 
  11. The day before yesterday it was as simple as buying new gloves for handling hypochlorite/milk stone remover.
  12. Most farms have a missing or broken pto guard on a little-used implement. Get it sorted.
  13. Never leave the cab without your mobile phone on you.
  14. At silage time, we have flashing beacons running off a car battery to raise awareness of increased tractor activity in the yard.
  15. We’ve started a “buddy system” for when working alone. Every two hours, contact buddy. If no contact, your buddy goes to find you.
  16. We have found cotton hi-vis polo shirts very comfortable. They help ensure you’re seen, and orange doesn’t attract as many insects either.
  17. My contribution to farm safety? Two powder fire extinguishers, small enough to go underneath driver and passenger seats.
  18. Install the St John Ambulance app on your phone. Great for first aid tips.
  19. We’ve arranged telehandler refresher training for all our staff – including me.
  20. Take a short holiday as soon as schools finish. You will still get everything done – and you’ll feel better and well-rested before main harvest.

Thanks to

Stuart Roberts (Hertfordshire), Ben Martin (Suffolk, Cambs), Tim Downes (Shropshire), Peter Allen (Bedfordshire), John Charles-Jones (Nottinghamshire), Will Wilson (Essex), Phil Latham (Cheshire), Angela Sargent (Derbyshire), Charles Tassell (Kent), Eddie Andrew (Yorkshire), Tom Bradshaw (Essex), Phil Christopher (Shropshire), Richard Wordsworth (Warwickshire), James Wright (West Sussex), David Exwood (West Sussex) and others.