Scottish Farmers asked to prioritise their safety

Hannah Downey

Scotland’s farm safety record is of a considerably lower standard in comparison with the rest of the UK. To bring Scotland up to par, the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland (FSPS) has launched a new initiative in an effort to encourage farmers and crofters to prioritise their safety.

The partnership, launched in August 2014, is made up of key industry stakeholders. They plan to focus on the risks associated with different farming and crofting practices each quarter, and deliver important safety information relevant to each. The first quarter of the campaign will run between September and November, with a focus on general farm safety and maintenance, including falling from heights and safe harvesting.

Last year there were 33 deaths across the UK in the farming industry, with five of that figure occurring in Scotland. Falls, transport, animals and equipment were named the most common causes of death in the agricultural sector. The data shown in the infographic above, published by HSE Scotland, does not take into account the number of non-fatal injuries on Scotland’s farms and crofts – a number that is believed to be significantly higher.

For those who are currently right in the middle of harvesting, the FSPS advised how essential it was that they practice the ‘Safe Stop’ method when working with machinery, equipment and vehicles – handbrake on, controls in neutral, engine off, keys out.

They also advised that anyone working with farm equipment or machinery should be fully trained, with risk assessments carried out appropriately - in particular when working near power lines.

Speaking on behalf of FSPS, NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said: “One death or injury on Scotland’s farms and crofts is frankly one too many and as an industry we need to take action to make a conscious effort to put our safety, and that of those living and working around us as a priority.

“Whether it is carrying out maintenance to a roof, checking over a machine, or working in a field with power lines, injuries and deaths through accidents most of the time are preventable by taking simple steps and precautions," said Mr Walker.

“This campaign encourages farmers and crofters to make a point of ensuring their working environment is safe to help us work together to reduce the death and injury toll on our farms and crofts. This autumn, it is about Your Safety, Your Choice, and as the darker nights draw in, and many are rushing to get the job done, it is important to take a step back to make sure you are working safely.”

The Farm Safety Partnership Scotland consists of NFU Scotland, the Scottish Government, Health and Safety Executive Scotland, NFU Mutual Insurance, The Scottish Farmer, the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, Farm Advisory Scotland and SAC Consulting.

You can read more about the campaign here.