Farmers’ union president Andrew McCornick has given a personal account of an accident on his own farm to promote the launch of Farm Safety Week which begins on Monday.
In 2015/16, there were eight deaths in Scotland in the agricultural industry and across Great Britain there have been 390 fatalities between 2005/06 and 2014/15. Of these, 126 (32 per cent) were employees, 210 (54 per cent) were self-employed people and 54 (14 per cent) were non-employed people who were killed as a result of someone else’s work.
In his blog on the NFU Scotland (NFUS) website, Mr McCornick admitted that in his own case, cutting corners were to blame to fractures, blood and bruising earlier this year. In his account of the accident he explained that his son had been pushing up silage for cows when one of the feed barrier concrete panels fell into the feed passage amongst the animals.
“He came to me to help rectify the situation as the cows would be standing on it and silage would be getting wasted. Tools deemed appropriate were crow bars, pinch bars and two hardy farmer types. That proved ineffective and a tractor and loader were brought in. It seemed to be going well until there was a shuddering at the loader end,” he said.
“All I can tell you I that the half-lifted panel was no longer half-lifted, myself and the pinch bar had failed to keep up our end of the job and it had fallen again. This time though my foot was below it. I can honestly say I didn’t go oops!”
X-rays showed he had sustained a crushed foot, fractures on his toe and a lot of blood and bruising.
He added: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Had I not been in such a rush to get the panel up to get on with other things and thought about how to do it a bit smarter, that accident wouldn’t have happened; had l let the tractor do the lifting at its end and put wood at my end to prop it up as it was rising; all this could have prevented my foot ending up under that slab, and my visit to A&E.”
Mr McCornick pointed out that the busy harvest season which is getting into full swing is the perfect recipe for accidents to happen.
“We need to take action right across the industry to protect ourselves, our families and those visiting our farms and crofts. Implementing the simplest of measures could help to save a life,” he said.
For more information and to view advice on making your farm or croft a safer place to live and work visit: https://www.nfus.org.uk/policy/campaigns/farm-safety.aspx