Tractor ploughing field

Farmers need to get better at pointing out safety risks to one another, NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts has urged at the start of this year’s Farm Safety Week.

It comes as the Health and Safety Executive revealed the causes of the 21 farm fatalities last year, outlining moving vehicles, falling from a height and being struck by an object as the most common causes.This was the lowest number on record.

“We are seeing more farmers making important headway when it comes to improving safety on farm, but the fact that the main causes of fatalities on farms have been the same year after year demonstrates that we need to change our approach to doing things,” said Roberts.

“Farming has changed since our grandparents were doing it and we have to change our approach to safety with it. We can no longer carry on doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done. We need to start looking at situations with a fresh pair of eyes and we need to help each other by pointing out risks when we see them.”

He added:“As an industry we too often turn a blind eye when we see friends and colleagues undertaking unsafe practices or cutting corners. I know I have – I didn’t want to have that embarrassing and awkward conversation, and I didn’t want to be seen as telling someone else how to run their farm.

“But if we’re serious about making long term improvements to farming’s safety record then we need to recognise that the best thing we can do for each other is to point out when we see unsafe practices, even if they’ve done the job a hundred times before and even if it makes us uncomfortable.”