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January 30, 2012

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Focus on farm safety in run-up to busy Spring season

Farm safety is high on the agenda throughout the UK with the launch of three initiatives in different parts of the country last week.

In Wales, farmers’ union NFU Cymru signed up to a new Farm Health and Safety Charter for Wales on 25 January to help raise awareness of the dangers faced when working in the agricultural sector.

The launch of the charter follows a ground-breaking summit organised by the union in January 2011, which aimed to get industry organisations in Wales working together to find tangible ways of improving farm safety and reducing deaths and injuries.

Farmer Ed Bailey, speaking at the Charter launch, said: “No one who has an interest in the farming industry and allied sectors can fail to be appalled and saddened by the number of people tragically killed or injured each year, and we have the unenviable track record of being the most dangerous industry in which to earn a living.

“As a practical farmer, I am acutely conscious that farms are inherently dangerous places to work. We use larger and increasingly sophisticated pieces of machinery, we operate sometimes on difficult terrain that can be exacerbated by climactic conditions, we handle stock that can be unpredictable and, because of pressure of time or, indeed, sometimes simply because of complacency, we take risks that can and do have awful consequences.

“The charter is an expression of our total commitment to doing what we can to make the industry a safer place to work.”

Other Charter signatories include the NFU Mutual, Welsh Government, FUW, CLA Wales, YFC, HCC, HSE, Lantra, Forestry Commission Wales, RABI Wales, and the Farm Crisis Network.

Meanwhile, the Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland has announced it will focus its attention on farm safety throughout February and March, via a ‘Help Initiative’. HSENI staff will visit farms and speak directly with farmers and their families about how the regulator can ensure their safety and help prevent injury and death. The initiative will complement the HSENI’s current TV advertising campaign.

Its acting deputy chief executive, Ken Logan, speaking directly to farmers, said: “Given that most Northern Ireland farms are worked by one or two people, this is a very personal message to you. Safety must be your number-one priority, as it is likely to be you or another family member who gets injured, or killed. This Help Initiative will provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from my colleagues. Please cooperate and help make our farms safer.”

And in the South West of England, primary-school children will be taught about farm and countryside safety thanks to a free online teaching resource developed by insurer Cornish Mutual in collaboration with education experts and health and safety consultants.

More than 1300 primary schools across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset will be able to access and download lesson plans, posters (pictured) and practical worksheets on such topics as how to behave around animals, road and rails safety, hygiene, and the Countryside Code. The programme is linked to the Key State 1 and 2 curricula for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE), Geography and Citizenship.

Alan Goddard, managing director at Cornish Mutual, commented: “As an insurer for the rural community, we understand that farms and the countryside can sometimes be a dangerous place for children. We have developed this online teaching resource in order to help pupils identify some of the dangers and learn how to deal with them. €

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