National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

07 July 2016

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.

Tractors and moving vehicles have claimed the lives of 30 farm workers in the past five years according to the HSE Health & Safety in Agriculture Report October 2015,  representing one of the biggest dangers on a farm. Day four of the fourth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland focuses on highlighting the issues surrounding transport and how to prevent transport related accidents on the farm.

Speaking at the RABDF panel discussion on the second day of the Livestock Event at the NEC, Ed Ford, Vice Chair of Council, National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) said: “Farm Safety is something that both NFYFC and I am particularly keen to pioneer. Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland. A lack of knowledge of safety regulations and personal safety practices at all experience levels puts farm workers at serious risk of debilitating injury or worse. By increasing our knowledge and awareness of safety in all aspects of agriculture, we can begin to challenge, prevent and stop unsafe habits and practices, while giving farmers of all ages a sense of independence and control over their own personal safety.

“Farms have always been hard, physically demanding workplaces, but in the early 20th century, safety concerns evolved when tractors began replacing horses as the main farmer’s aid. These petrol-powered beauties forever reshaped the face of agriculture however they also ushered in an era of mechanised danger.”

After losing his foot in a farm accident involving a quad bike and a shotgun, Farm Safety Ambassador Mark Mather from Haugh Head, near Wooler, Northumberland is keen to highlight the harsh reality of the consequences an accident like this can have..

Mark was 24 when, in June 2008, he suffered a shotgun blast to the leg while working on the 2,500-acre mixed arable and livestock farm.


Mark had been involved with the family trade from his late teens and had completed a business course before leaving school to prepare him for the financial side of farming.

It was while ploughing a field in readiness for a kale crop when he noticed that the barley crop in the next field was being plundered by crows.


Mark returned to the house in the early evening, collecting his shotgun before heading straight out again on a quad bike which had a twitching device of decoy birds on its front rack to attract crows so they could be shot. He was carrying the double-barrelled shotgun across his lap. It was loaded, but the safety catch was on.


Mark journeyed about a quarter-of-a-mile from the farm to the first field, where he took a couple of shots, but then decided to move on to the next field. As he turned into the field, the battery powering the front-mounted twitcher moved slightly and he leaned forward to secure it.


As a result, the vehicle veered onto a slight bank and overturned, hitting the butt of the shotgun which went off, firing both barrels into his right leg. Mark was conscious, in great pain and losing a lot of blood, but he couldn’t get up and couldn’t call for help because the battery in his mobile phone was flat.


Luckily Mark’s father received a message to say that some sheep had escaped and the search for the sheep led him to where Mark was lying beneath the quad.


With the local air ambulance unavailable, RAF Boulmer came to his rescue and airlifted Mark to hospital where surgeons operated throughout the night, but were forced to amputate the leg at the thigh to save his life. Mark endured four or five further operations every other day during the following weeks.


The impact on Mark’s life and the farm business was immense. He was unable to work for over a year and on his return to work still suffered pain and weakness. But the consequences of this tragic accident did not stop there. The accident also put the family and the farm under major financial strain.


“Neighbours were very good and came in to do the silage for us,” explains Mark. “My father visited me in hospital every day and so his work time was lost. He had to hire in extra help during the considerable length of time I was unable to work. Because my injury is so severe it means there are certain aspects of the work I can no longer do. I have lost a lot of mobility and working with livestock is no longer possible. We have had to buy a specially adapted tractor which has been fitted with a left foot accelerator and I have a similarly adapted car and 4x4 vehicle.


“It has hit my parents very hard. My Dad did not go shooting at all that year, which is something that he would normally enjoy.”


The 31-year-old admits: "My accident not only put safety awareness to the fore on our own farm but on surrounding farms when friends and neighbours heard about it.


"I am prepared to talk about what happened to me if it helps prevent others suffering this kind of incident. My advice is to think twice before you start a job."

Ed Ford, NFYFC added: “Mark’s advice to think twice and use your common sense is something that we should all take away from this story. Unfortunately most farm safety issues are commonplace but they aren’t common practice and this is why initiatives like Farm Safety Week are so important. Bringing the whole industry together, for even one week each year, to share a common message means that we are doing something to address this poor safety record. 

“Mark is a very brave man. His experience demonstrates that the fallout from a farming accident is broader than you might think. As well as the victim’s pain and suffering; there can be a significant economic cost to the farm. This is why this year Farm Safety Week is urging farmers to consider “Who would fill your boots?” if they were to be affected by a serious injury.”


05 July 2016

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.

Tuesday of Farm Safety Week focuses on Machinery. Poorly used or faulty machinery is a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels. 

Machinery accidents can be prevented by keeping the machine in good repair, fitting and ensuring all safety equipment (such as guards, safe access platforms and ROPS on tractors) are operating with the machine at all times and not taking risks when working with powerful machinery.

According to Alan Plom, Chair, Farm Safety Partnership Machinery Group: “Over the course of this week, we will have five days, five themes and five countries with one very clear question – Have you thought about “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” if you were to have a farm accident...  The initiative is supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland and aims to educate and inspire a drive to improve agriculture’s  poor safety record.”

After losing limbs in a life changing accident with a potato harvester two and a half years ago, Darren Taylor a sheep farmer and contractor from Bolton Percy in North Yorkshire, is all too aware of how easily a risk that you have taken “a million times before” can change your life forever…

Darren was running the harvester early one morning, alone, in preparation for a day’s work. He tried to kick a stone out of the cleaning system at the back of the machine – something he admits to having done ‘a million times before’ – however this time his foot got caught in the rollers and pulled him in. As he tried to free himself, his left arm and his other leg also got sucked in. He was trapped in the machine for around 25 minutes until two colleagues arrived for work and raised the alarm.

Two-and-a-half years later, Darren is ‘starting again’. He lost his right leg below the knee and his left leg right up to his hip. His left arm had to be removed from just below the elbow, but was sewn back on. He cannot bend it and has limited use of the hand. He is, however, very much alive, as is his steely determination that is both courageous and inspirational.

Darren was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary and put in an induced coma for eight days. He underwent three major operations – each lasting 15-20 hours – in quick succession and was on dialysis because the accident had left so many toxins in his bloodstream. He spent three months in hospital and had to go to theatre just to have his dressings cleaned. 

Darren still gets nightmares. And as he admitted, kicking a stone out of the back of the harvester was something he had done a million times before – and something he saw others do all the time.

“It was one of those flinty stones, they get in and they stick,” he recalls,

“What’s ironic is the first time I tried to get it out I actually switched the machine off, but I couldn’t hear where it was so I put the machine back on. The only thing I can think of that was different that day was that I had a new pair of boots on and they were a bit softer. I was unlucky – and more unlucky to be on my own. If someone had been with me I would probably only have lost a foot.”

Nowadays, Darren thinks he is more safety conscious, particularly for others. He also feels his accident has changed the way colleagues think and work. He added: “Farming is weather-related and there are big pressures just to get on with things. I want to make money like anyone else, but for the sake of 10 minutes switch the machines off. I’m 47 and have had a big part of my life but I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

“Farm machinery is generally much safer than it used to be but it’s also a lot stronger. It’s become so good that you do a lot more work on your own. When things do go wrong the machines are less forgiving. Thirty years ago I would probably have been able to stop the harvester myself, but not now.”

According to Alan Plom: “Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident. Organisations like the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.) offer invaluable support to people like Darren and are happy to support Farm Safety Week. Asking farmers to consider ‘Who Would Fill Your Boots?’ seems like the right thing to do given the consequences of taking constant risks when working. One day your luck could run out. One day it could be you.

Alan added: “This Farm Safety Week we are echoing Darren’s call not to rely on luck when working. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. Make sure you use the SAFE STOP approach - ensure equipment is switched off when making routine checks or maintenance and 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!”


04 July 2016

Wales YFC cleared up at NFYFC's Competitions Weekend, taking home nine top prizes, including the highly-acclaimed Junior Member of the Year award, sponsored by Tama.

Aled Davies (pictured right) of Llangadog YFC in Carmarthenshire took the top prize, beating off competition from his five English counterparts.

Meanwhile Brecknock's junior reading team took first place, as did county member Nia Havard in the cake decorating competition. Pembrokeshire won the Efficiency with Safety competition, including best ATV handler, plus they dominated the junior speaking competition, winning the top team award, as well as joint best chairman, best vote of thanks and best speaker.

And it didn't stop there either, as Brecknock's touch rugby team won a pulsating competition, betting fellow Welsh county Carmarthenshire in the final.

Shropshire FYFC restored some pride for the English Young Farmers by winning the inaugural Radio Show Live competition, as well as the Just A Minute (including best panellist) and Debating (including best speaker) competitions.

Elsewhere, Jared Armitstead of Cumbria YFC won the weathervane competition, Todd Bridge of Essex YFC triumphed clay pigeon shooting and Nicola Blowey of Staffordshire YFC took home top prize in Situations Vacant.

At the national sports day, Lincolnshire YFC were victorious in the volleyball and County Durham stormed to victory in the final of Ultimate Frisbee.

A full list of Results from the weekend are available on the NFYFC website. Head over to the NFYFC's Facebook page for all of the best photos from the weekend. 


04 July 2016

Another Farm Safety Week is here, and it won't be long before it's a memory. But practising farm safety shouldn't ever be only a memory, and it isn't just one week out of the year.

Today marks the start of the fourth 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 Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

From quad bike accidents to animal attacks, farming kills and injures more people than any other industry in the UK and Ireland – Farm Safety Week (4-8 July) offers five days of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers, day three of which will see the announcement of the latest HSE annual workplace fatality statistics for Great Britain 2015/2016.  Last year, 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is significantly higher than any other industry sector – 6 times higher than construction (1.62 / 100,000) SOURCE: RIDDOR

These are not just statistics.” explains Rick Brunt, Head of Agriculture, Waste and Recycling Sector, Health & Safety Executive. “Behind each story is a grieving family, a community in shock, and a farm that needs to continue being farmed no matter what has happened.

“This year, Farm Safety Week is focusing on the power of the positive. We know that we need to engage with farmers of all ages to make farms safer places to work and live.”

“We’re encouraging everyone in the industry to become farm safety champions.

On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people. A farm accident - whether fatal or causing serious trauma - can have awful, potentially lifelong consequences for a business,  not to mention family and sadly, deaths or injuries occurring on a farm are preventable more often than not. As someone who looks after Agriculture for HSE, I see the importance of farm safety first hand. Injuries on the farm are no joke, and they happen much more often than they should. We need to work together so that farm safety is acknowledged as important and change ensues.”

Even the most safety conscious farmers can experience the effects of a serious injury as we learn from Norfolk farmer Tim Papworth. Tim was carrying out a simple operation – changing a light bulb in a potato store – but one slip had life changing consequences.

Tim fell from a ladder and suffered a serious head injury and had to be taken by air ambulance to the specialist trauma unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where he spent five weeks in a drug-induced coma.

As with many of these instances, the accident happened during a busy time on Tim’s farm, as potatoes were being moved into a new store at Tunstead. One of the light bulbs had gone and he agreed to change it.

“I can remember getting the bulb from my car and going up the ladder, but that’s as much as I can remember until I woke up at Addenbrooke’s,” Tim explained.

“I couldn’t speak and I was paralysed on the left side of my body. I couldn’t do anything for myself. The only way I could communicate was by writing notes on bits of paper.

“Thanks to the marvellous work of the air ambulance and the team at Addenbrooke’s I knew I was going to survive but I was concerned about how I would function in the future and the effect it would all have on my wife Emma, our children and the family business. How to keep the business running and earn the money to look after my family worried me no end.”

The accident happened five years ago and thankfully Tim has made a full recovery apart from impaired hearing in his left ear.

Tim added, “I want to highlight the impact an accident like this can have on your family and your business. We’re much more conscious of safety all the while on the farm now and it’s made me slow down and think about every process.”

This case reinforces that fact that farm workers of any age run the risk of injury or death from falls. Falls constitute one of the most common farm accidents, accounting for 23 fatal accidents in the last 5 years.

“It is human nature to think ‘it won't happen to me,’ but unfortunately it can, especially if we continue on with this approach.” says Farm Safety Foundation’s Stephanie Berkeley.


“Taking preventative, proactive measures is one of the best things we can do for our farm and workers. Most preventative practices are common sense. Tragically, most accidents are caused by simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery. This week, we hope that by hearing from other farmers about their experiences, we can ask farmers to really think about ‘Who Would Fill Your Boots?’ if something were to happen to them at work, shed some light on the necessity of farm safety and highlight practical ways to make it happen on the farm.”



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