Making the Health and Safety Promise

September 21, 2010

The HSE has launched a further phase of its ‘Make the Promise’ campaign. It is a year since the campaign started which urges farmers to be more accident aware and commit to themselves, family and the farm ‘to come home safely at the end of the day.’

Work on the farm, as with all modern day industries, is working to pressured time scales which makes you vulnerable when working with machinery and livestock.  In addition, there are often weather deadlines if it is harvest or planting, or bad weather means you have to work harder to feed the livestock, move fallen trees and work in the dark.  Some jobs are urgent because livestock are ill or machinery needs fixing.

Hawthorn Training is involved in the campaign through providing training on a number of SHADs – Safety, Heath and Awareness Days which operate around the country.  Farmers are encouraged to attend these events by HSE and in a morning or an afternoon will visit 5- 8 scenarios at one site on different aspects of agriculture.  The 20 minute presentations, led by Lantra Instructors include pesticide handling, working at heights, working with livestock and working with machinery.  It is an excellent forum for giving agricultural workers a nudge to remind them that their industry remains dangerous and life threatening. In addition, best practice can be discussed and demonstrated.

HSE is encouraging farmers to make or re-affirm ‘your promise’ so 2010 can be a safer year on farms. All farm workers at The Hawthorns have ‘Made the promise to come home safe.’ We sent for and have received a copy of ‘How lives are lost on British farms.’ This is a booklet that summarises some of the fatal incidents that occurred on farms between 2007 and 2009 including:

‘A 62 year old farmer was run over by a combine harvester driven by a worker. The combine became stuck in wet ground. The worker reversed it to drier ground and it struck the farmer who was behind the machine. The farmer suffered multiple injuries and died later in hospital.’

‘A 37 year old worker was entangled on an unguarded PTO shaft that connected a tractor to a slurry tanker. His arms were severed and he was found lying next to the PTO shaft.’

HSE have created the ‘Promise Knot,’ this is a knot of baler twine and is a simple reminder of the need to keep safety at the fore front of every operation on the farm.  We have placed these knots around the farm to help remind the farm workers to think twice and to come home safe.

A knot is placed in the tractor to remind drivers to ensure they have good visibility and to keep people and vehicles safely apart.

Another knot can be found near a field gate to remind everyone working with or around cattle to work using safe methods. Familiarity with livestock can be dangerous as it can lead to complacency and unexpected events can occur which unsettle the animals. It is better to have proper facilities and follow safe working practices than to trust livestock. In addition, a knot is located on the cattle crush in the handling shed. We were weighing the cattle today, a routine task but the livestock in unfamiliar surroundings get on edge and lose their footing easily. Measures are in place to ensure that workers and livestock are kept apart as much as possible but the potential for incidents is high.

The door to the grain shed is another danger zone where a knot has been fixed. Confined spaces such as the grain sheds could result in asphyxiation from lack of oxygen, drowning in the grain or risk of fire. It is important to receive training, have another person at the door, the right equipment available and know the emergency procedures for working in this situation.

The final knot has been placed on the pillar drill in the workshop.

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