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Regional board chairman Mark Weekes.

Farmers union launches campaign for action on safety

THE NFU in the South West is calling for farmers to join them in helping to prevent accidents by pledging to take at least one action to improve safety on their farm this summer and into the harvest season.

The ‘Take Action Today’ campaign asks farmers to choose one (or more) actions from a suggested list, which they agree to implement as soon as they can.

This ranges from having regular health and safety meetings with staff, to checking ladders are safe and machinery guards are fitted, to making sure everyone has a helmet for use on quad bikes, that safe livestock handling systems are in place and emergency contacts are up to date.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) farming is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. In its 2019/20 report, the HSE recorded 12,000 non-fatal injuries and 21 fatalities among agricultural workers.

The NFU’s South West regional board, which is made up of farmers from across the region, decided to begin the campaign after hearing that during 2021 the HSE figures have shown no improvement and the industry still suffers far too many preventable accidents leading to serious injury or death.

Regional board chairman Mark Weekes, who himself undertook to regularly check trailer brakes, said: “As busy farmers ourselves, we know how tempting it can be sometimes to either take a shortcut because you need to get a job done, or put off doing that safety check or inspection because other work seems more urgent.

“But we owe it to ourselves, our farm workers and our families to do everything we can to make sure we come home safe.

“We also hope this campaign will be a reminder that looking after your safety need not necessarily be particularly expensive or time consuming, but it is something that, as an industry, we need to make a priority and have at the forefront of everything we do, as we have to face the fact that our safety record is not good.”

Farmers will be asked to write their safety pledge on a reminder card which will be available at NFU meetings and can be downloaded from NFUonline along with the actions list.

The card can then be fixed to a farm noticeboard as a reminder of the safety action to be taken.

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