The NFU Mutual has launched a Farm Safety First campaign to encourage farmers to make considered knowledgeable assessments of the risk of serious accidents. It is known that there are 10,000 near misses per month on farms in addition to the tragic and unnecessary deaths.
The stories and reports which were highlighted last week on Radio 4's Farming Today programme have been horrific. Most of the accidents were preventable and resulted in devastating loss of life or such serious injury that those involved and their businesses often never recovered.
Most of these cases have occurred when farmers are working alone. Had they had help or someone to discuss a safer way to deal with a situation relating to equipment, access or livestock, things could have turned out differently.
The problem is increasing as farms employ fewer workers and farmers have to cope with a heavy workload on their own. It is understandable that they are tempted to cut corners to save time or energy and the results can be deadly.
The NFU’s campaign will be invaluable in raising awareness and making us all stop and think, and hopefully in doing so it will save lives and prevent some of these terrible accidents.
As we heard on Radio 4 it takes but a second for a PTO shaft to catch a sleeve and rip an arm off. It must be drilled into all our heads that the time taken to switch off the power before approaching the hazard is more important. One could affect operator’s life and career, the other will allow him to get on with his work and his life.
Chinese lanterns and the damage they can inflict hit the headlines once again. The hugely expensive fire at the Smethwick recycling plant which cost the operators in excess of £6million and was attended by over 200 fire fighters has incredibly been brushed off by DEFRA officials as irrelevant.
Farmers, land owners and many businesses have repeatedly asked for these beautiful but deadly lanterns to be banned. However, despite the Government having spent £25,000 on a report into the effect of these sky lanterns which found that they are a significant risk, it had already decided to do nothing and despite last week’s incident they are not prepared to reconsider.
DEFRA may wish to ignore farmers’ concerns regarding livestock casualties from eating the deadly fine lantern wires which get caught up in grass, or the risk to hay and straw stacks which can be ignited. Nor the threat to standing crops which can be tinder dry just prior to harvest and can be wiped out in an instant when these lethal incendiary devices land.
I would have thought they would at least be worried that the report considered they may hamper search and rescue services, and could pose a danger to aeroplanes. And now that one has caused over £6million worth of damage and tied up 200 fire fighters battling the blaze at a considerable cost to tax payers, surely the matter should not be dismissed as insignificant.
Gavin Williams, FUS land use and parliamentary committee chairman, said: “We have repeatedly warned sky lanterns pose a considerable fire risk and the latest incident demonstrates why there should be an outright ban on the manufacture and sale of them.”
What a terrific sporting weekend. First the British Lions fabulous win against the Australians on Saturday, then Andy Murray’s triumph over Novak Djokovic the current world number one, in three straight sets was a triumph. What a wonderful match, they both played superbly. It was not until Andy's final winning shot that the match could still have been won by Djokovic. That is what makes tennis so gripping and thrilling.
Andy kept us all on the edges of our seats with the tension rising as he was willed on by millions of fans and British patriots to win in that third set. Considering the blistering heat, we later heard the temperature on Centre Court reached 50 degrees, a further two hours of play would have sapped all their energy and been cruel to both players and spectators.
It is worth noting that had they been animals the RSPCA would have considered the conditions unacceptable and stopped the contest for sure!
Congratulations to all our sporting heroes.
Carola Godman Irvine