Take A Moment
Health, Safety and Wellbeing in Agriculture
MOLE VALLEY FARMERS IS SUPPORTING THIS YEAR'S FARM SAFETY WEEK
From the 17th-21st July the Farm Safety Foundation – or Yellow Wellies as they are known – will hold their tenth annual Farm Safety Week, a campaign which brings together five countries over five days with one simple goal - to encourage everyone in the industry to make our farms safer places to live and work. A decade after the first Farm Safety Week, agriculture still has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland.
Mole Valley Farmers is proud to support the annual Farm Safety Week campaign. A campaign that spans five countries can really draw attention to and reduce the injury risk that farmers and farm workers face on a daily basis. When many voices join together to drive a change this is when it can happen. Farm Safety Week is important for this focus but the truth is that we should all try our best to farm safely every day of the year and not just during Farm Safety Week.
ESSENTIAL INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE ON HEALTH AND SAFETY IN AGRICULTURE
In the 12 months from April 2022 to March 2023, 27 people died in farm-related accidents. Farmers and farm workers are 21 times more likely to be killed whilst at work than the average rate across all industries. If everyone makes it their goal to Take A Moment to undertake just one change that makes their farm a safer place to work then the industry can take the next steps to becoming safer.
How do you shape up when it comes to farm safety?
How would you answer these four questions?
1. Do you always take the keys out when leaving a farm vehicle?
The most common cause of serious and fatal injuries in agriculture involves moving and overturning vehicles. Many accidents happen when people leave a vehicle without making sure it cannot move. Even when the vehicle is stationary, you should make sure it is properly secured and made safe by following the Safe Stop procedure.
3. Do you have high visibility vests available for use in your farmyard?
A key aspect to your own safety is being visible on farm. Part of that is wearing high visibility clothing such as hats, shirts or Hi Vis vests, or anything that can alert a busy farmyard to your presence. In some cases, this vest could save your life.
2. Do you ever allow children to travel in your tractor cab?
It is illegal to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural self-propelled machines (such as tractors) and other specified farm machinery. Children are not safe simply because they are in a cab - they can and do fall out of doors and rear windows. They may distract the operator and, if left alone in the cab, can interfere with the tractor controls, putting others as well as themselves at risk.
4. Do you routinely wear a crash helmet when riding an ATV on your farm?
Quad bike accidents and overturned vehicles accounted for more than 14 fatalities in the past year. Yet only one in three farmers say they frequently or always wear a helmet when riding a quad bike.
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As an industry leader and farmer-owned company, Mole Valley Farmers are uniquely positioned to make a real difference and influence cultural change within the sector by helping improve safe working practices on farms. Mole Valley Farmers is asking farmers to ‘Take A Moment’ to consider their safety and that of others on their farms. At the heart of the initiative are the following themes -
Take A Moment to
• Consider the task you are about to undertake
• Consider your environment
• Consider the machinery you are about to use
• Think ‘what if…’
• Plan a safe return home at the end of every day
As an industry leader and farmer-owned company Mole Valley Farmers are in a unique position to make a real difference and influene cultural change within the sector by helping to improve safe working practice on farms. Mole Valley Farmers is asking farmers to ‘Take A Moment’ to consider their safety and that of others on their farms. At the heart of the initiative are the following themes -
Take A Moment to
Consider the task you are about to undertake
Consider your environment.
Consider the machinery you are about to use
Think ‘what if…’
Plan a safe return home at the end of every day
Health and safety is a fundamental requirement of a sustainable farming business and should be regarded as an essential part of farm business management. As farmers, you use management systems to make sure that your crops and animals are kept healthy and productive. You plan what to plant and when, and assess the risks of disease and other incidents that may spoil the crop or animal. You control any problems, monitor growth and decide when to harvest. You also work out how successful you have been and come up with improvements. Managing health and safety is no different, you need to manage it to make sure that you, your workers, family members and others are kept safe at work.
WHY TAKE A MOMENT MATTERS
- Figures recently published by the Health and Safety Executive show 27 people were killed as a result of farming and other agricultural activities during 2022/2023
- Agriculture has the worst fatal injury rate (per 100,000) of the main industrial sectors; it is 21 times higher than the average rate across all industries
- Transport: overturning vehicles or being struck by a vehicle caused most deaths
- 80% of all farm worker deaths over the last five years have been to those aged 45 or over
- 25 members of the public were killed in the last five years, a quarter of whom were children
According to a new survey of wellbeing in agriculture, more than a third of people in UK farming could be suffering from depression.
The Big Farming Survey by the University of Exeter and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) spoke to 15,000 people in UK farming and is one of the largest of its kind. The causes of stress highlighted in the report include financial pressure, physical pain, the Covid-19 pandemic, regulations and bad weather. Women farmers reported particularly high levels of anxiety.
- Four out of five young farmers (under 40) believe mental health is the biggest problem faced by farmers today
- 36% of the farming community are probably or possibly depressed
- More than half of women (58%) experience mild, moderate or severe anxiety
- Over half (52%) of the farming community experience pain and discomfort, one in four have mobility problems and 21% have problems in undertaking usual tasks due to health issues
Sources - Farm Safety Foundations and Big Farming Survey (University of Exeter and RABI)
Recent research by the Farm Safety Foundation in 2019 revealed that:
- 84% of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today
- 85% believe that there is a link between farm safety and mental health
- 86% believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it.
Farming can be a highly stressful occupation and the industry is exposed to a unique set of circumstances and stressors
Although not an accurate indicator of poor mental health in the industry, it is important to know that, in 2019, there were a total of 102* suicides registered in England and Wales in those working in farming and agricultural related trades (*Office of National Statistics)
Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms
If you need to talk to someone contact the Farming Community Network helpline on 03000 111 999
Sadly, too often, the stigma around mental health prevents those who need help from seeking it, but there has never been a time when this has been more relevant. Farmers are often culturally ill-equipped to talk about mental health problems and the challenge now is to build a culture within agriculture that recognises how the job can impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job.
Mole valley Farmers is working with many partners to promote farm safety and to provide access to mental health support. This includes access to free confidential health checks and NHS support around all aspects of emotional wellbeing at the recently opened Frome Market Health Hub.
There are a number of mental health risk factors associated with agriculture. Farmers work long hours, often in isolation. They can be under significant financial pressure, often required to take on significant debt to purchase the land and equipment required to operate. And in most cases, a farmer's place of business is also his or her home, meaning there is no easy way to get away from work.
Poor mental health is emerging as one of the biggest, yet unspoken, challenges within farming. As the conversation around mental health and wellbeing becomes increasingly more prominent in the UK, an estimated one if four people will experience at least one diagnosiable mental health condition during their lifetime. Levels of depression in the farming industry are increasing and figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed 133 people working in farming and agriculture took their own lives between 2019 and 2020.
There are a number of rural support charities throughout the UK and five of them form the group of 'Farming Help' charities. One of there is the Addington Fund which Mole Valley Farmers is proud to sponsor and partner with. The fund provides housing, feed and forage for those in need. The other charities, FCN, Forage Aid, RABI and RSABI also provide vital support to those within the sector who are struggling.
| BRUCE'S STORY
| GREG'S STORY
Day One Trauma Support
In the briefest of moments, a catastrophic injury can shatter someone’s life. Surviving these catastrophic injuries is just the start. When lives are shattered by a life-changing injury Day One Trauma Support is there to help piece them back together. They provide the practical, emotional, and financial support people need through bedside support in hospitals and through our national support line. They are the only national charity to provide personalised care to anyone affected by a catastrophic injury of any kind, their loved ones and their families – for as long as it takes.
One of the individuals they have supported is Grace Addyman. Grace and her family are customers at our Ripley Mole Countrystore Grace recently suffered a horrific farming injury but has made an incredible recovery with the help of Day One Trauma Support and is now back riding and snowboarding. Read more about Grace’s story here https://dayonetrauma.org/stories/graces-story and find out more about the charity at their website - dayonetrauma.org
The charity is currently running an appeal from June to September encouraging people to raise money by completing 100k, by running, riding, biking, skating, walking, jogging or any way they choose. Laura Harris, our Store Supervisor at Ripley, has been biking, horse riding, running, rollerskating, hiking and swimming her way to 100k to support the charity during June – well done Laura!
Farm Vehicle Safety
The most common cause of serious and fatal injuries in agriculture involve moving and overturning vehicles. Transport movements in and around the workplace need to be controlled to protect pedestrians and to prevent damage to equipment and buildings. Other incidents happen when people leave a vehicle without making sure it cannot move or cause injury in other ways.
‘Safe Stop’ is the most important safety action of all:
- Handbrake on
- Controls in neutral
- Engine off and remove the key
It is sometimes easier to break transport activities into three areas: vehicle, driver and site.
Check that vehicles, machines and handling equipment are capable of safely performing the jobs to be done and are properly maintained. Vehicles should be fitted with roll-over protective structures and seatbelts if there is a risk of overturning. Keys should be kept secure when not in use.
Drivers should be medically fit to drive, properly trained and authorised to drive. Never allow passengers to ride on or in vehicle cabs unless they are sitting on a passenger seat and cannot impede the driver, accidentally make contact with the machine controls or obscure the driver’s vision.
Vehicles and pedestrians should be separated where possible and visiting drivers should be aware of your site rules. Traffic routes should be properly maintained and adequately lit. The need to reverse should be reduced where possible.
Many quad bike fatalities in the UK have been caused by head injuries. Helmets would have prevented most, if not all, of these deaths. You should always wear a helmet when riding a quad bike. Never carry a child as a passenger, it is illegal and will reduce your ability to control the ATV.
References: HSG270 Farmwise