Farming and riding are among the UK’s most dangerous occupations, with the former resulting in 33 fatalities in 2017/18, and nearly two horses a week killed on our roads. To help improve this record, the Royal Bath & West Show is focussing on road safety and animal movement, with the Safety Zone this year looking at how to prevent an accident and what to do if you’re in one.
Farmers, hauliers, horse owners and anyone who moves animals by vehicle will benefit from a visit to the Safety Zone, says Stephen Bartlett, who runs the feature. There will be experts from the fire and ambulance services on hand to answer any questions you may have and offer advice, plus there will be information on care and repair of lorries, horse boxes and trailers.
“Visitors can find out what to look for when it comes to the floor and rust – the problem is urine causes the floor to rot away and there have been some horrific accidents when hooves have gone through the floor,” says Mr Bartlett.
“We will also be telling people what to do if the vehicle rolls over – the RSPCA procedure is to just open the door and let the animals out but that causes more problems with animals all over the road,” he adds.
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance will also have a display, including some frightening statistics. “The majority of their call outs are horse or cattle related – whether it’s falling off or being trampled, often in isolated locations.”
Quad bikes are one of the commonest causes of accidents on farm, says Mr Bartlett. “A lot of people are also using them on roads as a car and they aren’t wearing a helmet or safety gear. “Many farmers don’t think about wearing a helmet just to go down the road. But they should: If you allow an employee to use a quad without the correct safety kit you’re breaking the law.”
Western Power Distribution will also be providing guidance for working under powerlines. “A lot of people don’t realise but you don’t actually have to touch the line – you can be two feet away and the power can jump,” says Mr Bartlett. “Usually it’s trailers, telehandlers or ladders – sometimes it’s people not realising that their implements have caught on a telegraph pole and got wrapped around.”
In addition, there will be training on drones available. “There are big safety concerns with drones and it’s not just around airports; the laws keep changing over what size you can fly and what license you should have.”
Mr Bartlett began as a steward at the Bath & West Show 20 years ago, and is the fourth generation on the family farm. “I just like being able to give something back; accidents in the countryside are rising, machinery is getting bigger and many don’t know what to do if you get into a dangerous situation,” he explains. “That’s why we teach it all in the Safety Zone, my main aim is to educate people and prevent accidents.”