Solutions to the ongoing farm safety dilemma were discussed at a webinar organised by Farmers’ Union of Wales Insurance Services Ltd. (FUWIS) as part of the virtual Royal Welsh Show.
Keynote speakers on the day included Tony Succamore, Sales and Operations Director of FUW Insurance Services Ltd and Georgina Davies, Business Development Manager (Midlands) at British Engineering Services; Health and Safety Executive representative Christopher Maher and Farm safety expert and instructor Brian Rees.
Chairing the webinar was Farmers’ Union of Wales Deputy President and FUW Insurance Services Ltd. board member Ian Rickman.
Mr Rickman said: “It saddens me to know that despite efforts to highlight the dangers on farms time and time again, we have still not seen a decrease in these figures. Together with our partners in the Wales Farm Safety Partnership, we are working on raising awareness and reducing the risk of harm faced by those in our industry.”
Outlining the latest statistics, Health and Safety Executive representative Christopher Maher told the audience that a total 41 fatalities were recorded in 2020/2021- an increase from the 21 the year before.
“Agriculture by metric is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous industry within the UK. In 2020/2021 the agricultural fatal injury rate in the UK was 20 times higher than the all industry rate,” Mr Maher said.
“Those are pretty sobering statistics. What we need to focus on is how we can improve those statistics and there are some things farmers can do. Sadly most of the deaths in this report could have been avoided using simple, low cost or cost free measures. Tiredness and fatigue could be a factor and farmers should assess risks and plan accordingly.”
Georgina Davies, from the British Engineering Services, was clear that farm safety is still very much an education piece but that farmers need to be aware of rules and regulations.
“We take risk very seriously and therefore testing and reporting on agricultural machinery, in order to keep the UK farming industry safe is our purpose. Our knowledge of plant and equipment is second to none and we’re experts in all relevant legislation, so that our customers don’t have to be.”
Well-known farm safety expert and instructor Brian Rees, from Abbeycwmhir, near Llandrindod Wells, told the audience that the industry needs to be convinced that there is an issue.
“70 to 80 per cent of farmers don’t think we have a problem. As long as it doesn’t happen to them, we’ll just carry on. But look at the figures – it’s carnage,” Mr Rees said.
Some things, he said, can be addressed by looking at machinery itself and a lot more can be done through inspections on farms. “The industry has done quite a lot in the last 20 years, no farmer can plead ignorance when an inspector goes to visit them and starts issuing improvement notices.
The SHAD events have now run for just under 20 years, which started in 1990. If you attend those events, you would not need on farm inspections. That worked well and we had the right people turning up. Training should become standard for our industry,” said Mr Rees.