For those of us who have been following every possible safety measure to avoid the invisible danger of COVID – washing our hands until our skin starts to crack, avoiding social contact with family and friends, risk assessing and redirecting our route as soon we see someone approaching – the thought that someone could see a danger on the horizon and do nothing to avoid it is hard to fathom.
But this is exactly what farmers have been doing for years.
“It will never happen to me” sound familiar?
This month, our friends at The Farming Community Network are focusing on “Planning for the Unexpected” as part of their Time to Plan initiative. It’s time that we all recognise that, while accidents do happen, in farming, the word ‘accident’ suggests that it was avoidable when the harsh reality is that most of the fatal injuries in farming are predictable and preventable.
So how can we plan for this?
Firstly, how is your attitude?
Do you think farm safety is relevant to you? If not, why not?
Here at the Farm Safety Foundation, we work with young farmers to educate and inspire them to challenge and change poor attitudes and behaviours around farm safety. Recent research we conducted suggests this is working with the number of young farmers under 40 admitting that they would think twice before taking a risk leaping from 74% in 2017 to 94% in 2020 plus 90% of the 450 young farmers interviewed have actively thought about the consequence of having a life changing “farm accident” – this figure has also jumped from 76% in 2017.
Secondly, you plan for unexpected weather events so why wouldn’t you plan for an unexpected event happening to you?
One way to address this is by creating a Farm Emergency Plan. You can’t predict when an emergency will occur, but you can be prepared. Planning ahead for hazardous situations – such as injuries, power cuts or extreme weather conditions – could help protect your family and minimise the impact on your farming business.
1. Emergency contacts – This section should outline all the telephone numbers that may be needed if 999/112 are not working properly. It would also be helpful to include the telephone numbers of local fire service, police station, hospital, GP practice and Vet.
2. Business contacts – This section can cover important contacts including insurance provider/agent, NFU branch manager, equipment dealer, chemical and feed company, electricity provider, gas company, phone company, machinery dealer and mechanic.
3. Directions to your farm from the nearest major road or highway. You can also look up the farm GPS coordinates and try to think of all the landmarks or other markers visible by air in case of a response by air ambulance. A very helpful suggestion would be to include the farm’s What3Words address which can be communicated easily to any emergency services.
4. Farm Information – This will include the name, address and contact details for the Primary Contact, employees, contractors and the owner’s information if different from the Primary Contact
5. Farm Inventory – Make a list to cover details of the farm’s
• Livestock – including species, approx. number of animals
• Crops – detailing acres and type – remember to update this regularly
• Machinery and equipment – including the makes and models
• Hazardous substances – this is important as it must include the location and security as well as a detailed list of all pesticides, fertilizers, fuel, vet meds and other chemicals
Our handy Farm Emergency Plan template can be downloaded here HERE and once you have pulled the information together, remember to share it with your family and farm workers. Keep them informed of the farm’s emergency plan; review it regularly and update when required. Set up a WhatsApp group or establish a phone tree with contact information for all employees.
We all appreciate that 2020 has been a particularly challenging year for all of us and it doesn’t show any signs of improving. Over the past few months, farmers have been recognised as key workers, playing an essential role in producing food for the country. Farmers are great at looking after their lands and their livestock but isn’t it time you started looking after your farm’s key asset – yourself?
To learn more about The Farming Community Network’s Time To Plan initiaitive CLICK HERE