National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

09 July 2015

The third annual Farm Safety Week from 6-10 July offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers, supported by the NFYFC and Farm Safety Foundation. 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 James Eckley NFYFC  and Farm Safety Partnership England member  “Over the past five years 17% of all reported major injuries are as a result of livestock-related incidents and 11% of all workers killed on farms over this period were livestock-related. Handling livestock always involves risks, from crushing to kicking and butting.”

Carmen Wood and her family know all too well the effect an incident like this can have, after she suffered serious injury after 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 a 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.

Tim 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!”


08 July 2015

Today members of Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland gathered at the Livestock Event NEC, Birmingham to celebrate day three of Farm Safety Week 2015. Minette Batters of NFU joined colleagues from the Farm Safety Foundation and NFYFC to highlight the issues surrounding transport and how to prevent transport related accidents on the farm.

According to Thomas Price, NFU and Farm Safety Partnership England member: “Today’s focus is transport and sadly, over the last ten years, 29% of all farm related fatalities have been due to vehicle overturns and being struck by moving vehicles on England’s farms. All terrain vehicles (ATVs), including quad bikes, can have fatal consequences if best practice is not adhered to. And still, even when it is, there is always the possibility that accidents can happen however you can take steps to reduce those chances and best protect yourself if an accident does happen.”

Experienced farmer Roger James lost concentration and hence control of his quad bike whilst riding up a slope on his Powys farm and ended up underneath it. Roger admits that a moment’s inattention changed his, and his family’s life forever. “99 times out of 100 I wouldn’t have gone up that slope on the quad bike,’” he says.  “I just wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing for those few seconds.  I did it without thinking.  Basically, I shouldn’t have been there.”

Roger was herding cows on his farm at the time.  Before moving the herd, he set off on his quad bike to check out the new field.   With a number of tasks in mind his attention slipped, just for a moment, from steering the machine along an appropriate route. 

That fleeting loss of concentration meant he found himself riding up a slope instead of continuing his approach on level ground.  The result was sudden and dramatic.  The slope was too steep for the vehicle’s stability. It tipped backwards and upended, throwing Roger on to the ground behind.  As he lay there, stunned and unable to move, the tumbling machine landed on him.  Half a tonne of falling metal hit Roger’s unprotected body and smashed his pelvis.  He wasn’t wearing protective headgear so, serious as his injuries were, he considers himself lucky they weren’t even worse.

“Only the previous week I’d got myself a mobile phone, and that was the life saver, really,” says Roger. Despite his stunned state he managed to dial 999 for help, and also to ring his wife and son.  His family members quickly located him, closely followed by a paramedic team in a first-response vehicle.  The paramedics quickly assessed the situation and called for an air ambulance.  In a commendably short time Roger was airlifted to hospital.

Roger spent eight days in traction before being transferred to University Hospital, Coventry for surgery.  He then spent a further seven days in hospital and the following three months confined to bed.   But the consequences of that momentary lapse are permanent.  Roger’s injury has left him in constant pain with limited mobility. 

Roger had always been aware of the risks in the agricultural profession.  “We spend our days working on our own in remote locations.  We’re constantly handling powerful machines.  And these days we’re doing more and more multi-tasking.  It’s vital to keep your mind on the job.  I’ve had years of experience, and my motor bike background gave me even more capability with quad bikes.  Yet that brief lapse of concentration took me and the bike where we shouldn’t have been.  Now I’m suffering the consequences.”

Thomas added “Roger’s story highlights that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from transport related accidents. Working with ATVs, fork lift trucks, lorries and transport of all types is an ever-present danger on farms.  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!”


07 July 2015

Cumbria FYFC continued to rule the roost at national competitions, as it took home numerous awards at the NFYFC Competitions Weekend in Staffordshire. Cumbria collected five top awards, including the prestigious Junior Member of the Year award, which was won by Alice Longmire of Lowick YFC (pictured right).

Alice fought off competition from six other finalists, having impressed the judges with her answers about what being a Young Farmer means to her and how to bring in new members.

Alice, 18 and vice chairman of Cumbria's Youth Forum, couldn’t hide her disbelief. “I’m still in shock” she said. “I can’t really believe it! I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet! My parents were members and won competitions at county level but never at national level, so I’m really proud.

“People can sometimes have the wrong perception about Young Farmers. It’s a lot more than standing in fields and working with tractors. You get great opportunities that people don’t always see and that’s why they don’t necessarily want to join. They get the wrong impression. We need to show more people the amazing opportunities that come with being a Young Farmer and let them know that you don’t have to work in agriculture to join.”

There was even more reason to celebrate for Lowick YFC on Saturday, as another one of its members, Leah Clough (pictured right), won the Best Chairman award in the Junior Speaking competition. Cumbria came second in that team competition, but took first place in the Junior Reading competition. They also came third in the Fashion Make & Model competition and 2nd in the Cube Exhibit.

Devon FYFC also enjoyed a very successful competitions day, winning first place in the After Dinner Speaking competition. Daniel Grist of Cheriton & Tedburn YFC took home the Best Speaker award, while fellow club member Louise Putt won the best Vote of Thanks award in the Junior Speaking competition. Devon finished third in that event.


Alice had little time to celebrate her achievement as she was competing for Cumbria again in the Dodgeball competition at the National Sports Day at Weston Road Academy on Sunday. But it was Shropshire who dominated that particular event, with both of the county's teams reaching the final. Dorrington YFC (pictured below) won a pulsating final against Whittington & Oswestry YFC to take home the trophy.

However, Cumbria dominated once again by taking home two more 1st places, as Richard Lawrence, Kent Estuary YFC, and Heidi Dent, Pennine YFC, came first in their respective senior cross country competitions.

Devon too enjoyed further success at Sports Day, coming first in the team cross country competition, while Jordan Ford of Witheridge YFC came first in the intermediate male cross country competition.

Yorkshire came out on top in the Kwik Cricket competition, beating Wiltshire YFC in the final. 

A full list of results from Competitions Day and Sports Day can be found by visiting our Competitions Results page.

Head over to our Facebook page for all of the best photos from the weekend. 

07 July 2015

Do not learn farm safety by accident – this is the theme of the third annual Farm Safety Week supported by NFYFC and the Farm Safety Foundation. From falls and transport to child safety – Farm Safety Week takes place from 6-10 July and offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers and coincides with the Livestock Event at Birmingham NEC.

According to Alan Plom, Chair FSP Machinery Group: “Taking precautions to ensure the safety of you and your workforce can save lives and help prevent serious injury. Much of farm work is carried out using heavy machinery and equipment and it is imperative that farmers put the safety of themselves and their employees first. Over the last 10 years, six people have been killed by contact with the moving parts of equipment or machinery – eight per cent of all fatalities.”

After losing his foot in a harvesting accident, self employed farmer Dave Allen of Cornwall is keen to highlight the harsh reality of learning safety by accident.

A third generation farmer, Dave shared his story which began in 2008 a poor year for harvesting. Wet weather had restricted work but finally the climate had changed and now that it was drier and brighter, Dave was able to resume harvesting the wheat down in Cornwall.

On this occasion Dave was working alone when a little of the grain got stuck in the tank of the combine harvester, and Dave did what he, his father, grandfather and others had done for the last 30 years and got into the tank to release it by kicking it to make it move. However, Dave’s decision to rectify the situation as quickly as possible would lead to horrific consequences.

Dave explained what happened next: "Rather than using the ladder to enter the tank, which would then stop all the mechanisms, I decided to go in over the top – which meant the mechanisms were still fully operational."

"The machinery got hold of my boot so I tried to pull my foot out of it. I managed to release my leg but realised that something was seriously wrong. I was wearing a boiler suit and couldn’t see the bottom of my leg – but I knew from the weight that my foot was gone. I also knew that it was only a matter of moments before my boiler suit was going to get caught and then that would be it. I knew I had to get out of the grain tank or I wasn’t going to survive," he recalls.

Fully conscious, Dave managed to haul himself out of the tank onto the cab roof of the combine harvester, climbed down into the cab where his phone was and rang the contractor he was working for to get him an ambulance.

After spending a month in hospital and a month with family learning to move around with crutches, Dave then had the painful process of learning to walk again, months of physiotherapy and adapting to a prosthesis. Even after everything he endured Dave considers himself one of the lucky ones…

"I have been so lucky. I’ve had a good support system around me and the contractor I was working for continued paying me so there was no hardship financially. Not everyone is that blessed. It was five months before I was able to return to work and life could have been much worse than it turned out to be."

"I’d never broken a bone in my body before that day," he says, "Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident. My advice to others is quite simple: do not do what I did. Just really think and realise that these safety devices are there for a reason and do not over-ride them. One day it could be you. Don’t think it only happens to others. I’m proof that isn’t the case."

James added: “This Farm Safety Week we are echoing Dave’s call not to learn safety by accident. PTO shafts are dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. Make sure they are fitted with proper guards that are correctly used and maintained. A properly guarded PTO shaft prevents life changing injuries and even death. Always take your 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!


06 July 2015

Today marks the start of the third annual Farm Safety Week, an initiative launched in 2013 aiming to cut the toll of accidents which continue to give agriculture the poorest record of any occupation in the UK & Ireland. This year’s Farm Safety Week is being supported by a greater number of organisations than ever including the NFYFC and the Farm Safety Foundation.

From falls and transport to child safety – Farm Safety Week (6-10 July) offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers and comes just after the HSE released the annual workplace fatality statistics for Great Britain in 2014/15.  In 2014/15, 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, the same as the average of 33 deaths in the past five years and, unfortunately, an increase from the 27 deaths recorded in 2013/14.  

According to Rick Brunt, HSE: “While our farmers are among the best in the world, farming continues to have one of the poorest records of any occupation in the UK and Ireland and while all farm accidents are shocking and dreadfully sad, the saddest thing is that they can often be prevented

“A fall can lead to long term injuries and make it difficult to keep on farming. Most Falls from Height accidents occur either because the work is not properly planned, the risks are not recognised, proper precautions are not taken, or the equipment used is either defective, not appropriate, or used incorrectly. Often people about to undertake a job believe it will ‘only take a few minutes’, and take a risk in the hope that simply being very careful will be enough.”

Even the most safety conscious farmers can experience the effects of a serious injury. In a recent case, a young Yorkshire farmer was carrying out routine maintenance on a length of guttering on the family farm when he fell eighteen feet through a roof light onto the concrete floor below him.  Twenty year old Peter Rooke was in great pain as he had broken the femur in his left leg. He was airlifted to hospital where surgeons pinned the leg with a steel rod but he was unable to return to work for eight weeks.

His father Mark was working with him on the roof. “It is a job I have done for the past 30 years and whenever I was working on the roof there was a farm worker below so I was not alone…The gutter cleaning is an annual job which we have to do to ensure that there is no water leakage when grain is stored in the building below.

“It was a fine day but heavy rain was threatened so there was some pressure to get the job done before the weather changed… I told Peter about the dangers before we went up there together and to be very careful.

“We had only been working up there for about ten minutes when the incident occurred. Peter had stepped backwards from the safety boards onto the (fragile) roof light which gave way and crashed straight through to the floor below. He cannot explain how or why he had stepped backwards and it must have been a lapse in concentration.”

Since the incident Mark has had a safety harness and a back rail fitted to the roof so that anyone working at height there is securely held.

This case reinforces that fact that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from falls. Working at height is an ever-present danger on farms.

Rick added: “Working at height is a frequent danger on farms. A fall is one of the most common causes of death and serious injury and farmers and farm workers of all ages run the risk of injury or death from falls from height.  It is vital that the farming community take the time to think about what they are doing and what might go wrong. Don’t learn safety by accident!”



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