Farm Safety Week 2015 – Work Smart, Ride Safe

Today members of Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland gathered at the Livestock Event NEC, Birmingham to celebrate day three of Farm Safety Week 2015. Martin Malone of NFU Mutual joined colleagues from the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority Ireland to highlight the issues surrounding transport and how to prevent transport related accidents on the farm.

According to Martin Malone, Regional Manager NFU Mutual and Farm Safety Partnership Scotland member: “Today’s focus is transport and sadly, over the last 10 years, 26 people have been killed by vehicle overturns and being struck by moving vehicles on Scotland’s farms. All terrain vehicles (ATVs), including quad bikes, can have fatal consequences if best practice is not adhered to. And still, even when it is, there is always the possibility that accidents can happen however you can take steps to reduce those chances and best protect yourself if an accident does happen.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead said: “There are four causes that account for over 70 per cent of work-related deaths on Scotland’s farms – transport is one of them, along with equipment, falls from height, and cattle handling. The Farm Safety Partnership aims to provide information on safe working practices and safety tips for working with equipment, transport and cattle to prevent deaths. I hope raising more awareness of safe farm working environments with Farm Safety Week will in turn help to reduce the number of accidents and deaths on Scotland’s farms in the coming years.”

In July 2013, father-of-three Johnny Mackey lost control of his quad bike whilst reversing ending up underneath it. Thankfully Johnny was wearing a helmet, or his injuries could have been more serious.

On reflection, Johnny, a livestock farmer, blames no one himself for the accident and admits that human error was a major factor in his accident, which left him in pain for a number of week after.

He explained: “A couple of things had gone wrong that morning – nothing major but enough to make me fall behind with my routine tasks… conscious of the clock ticking in the office, I pulled on my helmet, jumped on the quad and took off up the road where I met my father driving towards me in his pick-up truck. Our road is narrow so somebody had to pull in to let the other past. Hence I found myself putting the bike into reverse quickly whilst muttering about my father’s uncanny ability to be driving in our road precisely when I’m going in the opposite direction.

“I went shooting backwards far too quickly while looking over my right shoulder and in a split second the quad was bucking and weaving across the road. Before I knew it I was tipping backwards while still holding onto the quad. Apparently we (the quad and I) bounced along the road upside down together – my helmeted head hitting the road twice apparently – and came to rest upside down on a low stone wall.

“Fortunately the rack on the back of the bike was resting on the wall so I wasn’t taking the full weight of the 700cc diesel bike and was able to squeeze myself out from underneath. I was badly cut down my right side and knew my right thigh had taken the brunt of the impact but with my father’s help I was able to stand up.

“I’m very aware of how fortunate I was to walk away from my accident. I’ve never understood why so many farmers choose not to wear a helmet. They wouldn’t let their children ride a horse or a bike without one, so why not wear one themselves? Your head hits the ground with a lot more force coming off a fast-moving quad bike than it would from a mountain bike or a horse.

“I travel much slower forwards and backwards now and if I feel myself running late and rushing about, I stop, take 10 deep breaths and think what might have been.”

Martin Malone added: “Farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from transport related accidents. Working with ATVs, fork lift trucks, lorries and transport of all types is an ever-present danger on farms. Don’t learn safety by accident. Take the time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own.”

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