Educational course after farming deaths rise

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

Farming continues to be one of the most hazardous occupations in the UK and last year the South West saw the highest number of deaths.

In the year to March 2017, there were seven fatal accidents in South West England, giving it the poorest record in the UK. Many more accidents caused serious and life changing injuries.

To combat the grim death toll, the Farm Safety Foundation has been running unique training for students at Duchy and Bicton Colleges, recreating four farm accident scenes.

The realistic scenarios are used to encourage the youngsters studying land-based and agricultural courses to think about safety. The charity’s Introduction to Farm Safety course aims to raise awareness of the risks and hazards farmers face every day in the workplace and challenge and change the attitudes to risk taking for the next generation of farmers.

Small groups of students at Bicton College’s Earth Centre spent approximately 20 minutes at each accident site, which were set up at locations on the colleges’ working farms to provide a realistic setting.

This approach enabled students to work out what may have happened at each “accident scene”: a fall from height, a livestock crush, a slurry incident and a machinery accident.

They decide what immediate action should be taken, contemplate first aid implications and explore what measures should be taken to prevent the accident happening in the future.

Lindsay Sinclair, chief executive of NFU Mutual, which set up the Foundation three years ago, said: “The training programme demonstrates the need to put safety first at all times when working on a farm – and the risks of becoming complacent when working with large machinery and livestock on a daily basis.

“However, it’s clear from the latest farm accident figures that there’s a lot more work to be done to help farmers of all ages work safely and for this reason we’re calling for other organisations involved with farming to help finance the Farm Safety Foundation so it can expand its farm safety programme.”

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