Staying safe with Livestock

  • Themed help and advice placed online each day of the third annual Farm Safety Week 6-10 July

  • Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland join forces to drive the initiative.

  • Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead welcomes the joint initiative

  • Thursday’s theme – Crush Injuries

The third annual Farm Safety Week from 6-10 July offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers, supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland. Against the background of the annual Livestock event at Birmingham’s NEC, day four of Farm Safety Week throws the spotlight on livestock and, in particular, crush injuries. Handling cattle always involves a risk of injury, so today it is time to think about how you can improve your livestock handling system and make it safer and more efficient.


According to President of NFU Scotland Allan Bowie, a member of the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland: “Over the past decade nine people have been killed in livestock-related incidents on Scottish farms. Handling livestock always involves risks, from crushing to kicking and butting.”


Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:  “There are four causes that account for over 70 per cent of work-related deaths on Scotland’s farms – cattle handling is one of them, along with equipment, falls from height, and transport.  The Farm Safety Partnership aims to provide information on safe working practices and safety tips for working with equipment, transport and cattle to prevent deaths. I hope raising more awareness of safe farm working environments with Farm Safety Week will in turn help to reduce the number of accidents and deaths on Scotland’s farms in the coming years.”


Carmen Wood and her family know all too well the effect an incident like this can have, after she suffered serious injury when a newly-calved Aberdeen Angus cow turned on her nine years ago.

Carmen, who still suffers from the effects of the accident, had been moving a small group of cow and calves with her husband Rog on their hill farm Auchentaggart, near Sanquhar. Rog, who is currently the farming correspondent for The Herald, had gone ahead in the Land Rover to open a gate, when the beast turned on Carmen without warning.


The cow knocked her to the ground, gored her with its head and trampled her. That left her seriously injured and fighting for her life in the Intensive Care Unit at Dumfries Royal Infirmary following a lengthy operation involving 30 pints of blood and the removal of her right lung and two ribs.


After spending three weeks in intensive care, Carmen went on to develop serious complications when the cavity where her lung had been became infected with a cocktail of infections that included MRSA and a very persistent strain of pseudomonas. Following several months in hospital fighting those infections she then went on to have further major surgery to her chest.


Although she has now made a good recovery, Carmen still suffers pain, her posture and mobility has been affected and she suffers badly when she gets an infection in her remaining lung.


The accident also had serious implications for the rest of the family and with Rog committed to nursing his recuperating wife, the farm was not financially viable and a difficult  decision was made to give it up eight years ago.


Despite the devastating consequences of that day, Carmen considers herself fortunate that husband Rog was near and managed to summon medical assistance quickly. She realises she could have been alone and lain unattended for hours which, in her case, would have been fatal.


Allan Bowie added: “Farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from livestock related accidents. Livestock can be unpredictable and there is always a risk from crushing, kicking, butting or goring.  We should all learn lessons from Carmen’s tragic accident and think very carefully before working with cattle to ensure it’s done as safely as possible. Don’t learn safety by accident. Take the time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!” #FarmSafetyWeek

To listen to Carmen’s Story click here


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