Hundreds of farmers and farm workers are brushing up on key health and safety messages as they prepare for this year’s harvest.
Around 700 people signed up to attend one of six pre-harvest safety events organised by the NFU across the region.
Areas covered during the morning workshops included working safely under powerlines, vehicle and driver regulations, PTO safety and maintenance, safe stacking, and identifying risks around the farm.
NFU Regional Policy Manager Charles Hesketh said: “The industry is working hard to improve its poor safety record and it was encouraging to see so many members booking to come along, with their employees, ahead of the busiest time in the farming calendar for arable farmers.”
One of the workshops was hosted by NFU Suffolk Council Representative George Gittus at Symonds Farm near Bury St Edmunds.
George said: “Health and safety is crucially important. The industry still isn’t learning its lessons, unfortunately, so we are happy to help in any way we can with improving that poor safety record. It’s a question of keeping health and safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Farmers and farm workers have come along because they believe it’s right and they want to learn. Hopefully these 700 people will spread the word to their friends and colleagues. That’s all we can hope for and keep striving for.”
NFU Vice President David Exwood attended the Symonds Farm event. He told delegates that more people had been killed within in agriculture over 20 years than British soldiers serving in Afghanistan over the same period.
“That’s a shocking statistic and it shows the scale of the problem we have. We have to think about how to change culture and how we can change things across the industry,” he said.
Representatives from farming charity YANA also attended many of the workshops to highlight issues around mental wellbeing and the help available.
Charity Manager Emma Haley said: “Mental health plays a big part in safety on farms. When people are struggling they can feel overwhelmed and are not able to think clearly. That’s when mistakes can happen.”
In May, the NFU organised two livestock health and safety workshops, one at West Harling, Norfolk and one at Chrishall Grange near Royston.