IT is heartening to see recent improvements in farm safety figures. There were 50% less fatal accidents in 2021 than 2020 and figures for 2022 are encouraging. Of course we still want to do better.
Summer farming brings its own safety challenges. Tens of thousands of silage bales appear from every quarter. Care with bringing in bales can help to keep down accidents. In particular though it is important to be extra careful about stacking and storing bales.
Summer farming is associated with machinery activity. Many people who have been asked about the causes of farm accidents (survey of 1,500 farmers) recognise the dangers around farm vehicles. Tractors make up half of the accidents involving vehicles. We want to continue to move away from people being struck by farm vehicles. I’d urge you continue with good work of keeping tractor windows and mirrors shining and clear for the summer working days.
Livestock can also be often on the move through the Summer months. Bigger more powerful livestock are a particular risk as they may innocently knock down people who come into their path. Remember not everyone has your know how around handling stock.
Remember, too, that sunny summer days are there to be enjoyed.
Farmers can look after their skin while also looking the apart by continuing to wear hats, suitable clothing and wraparound sun glasses.
About nine out of 10 skin cancers can be traced back to sun’s rays so sun screen is very much our friend. I suggest that you take a leaf out of the book of the animals you work with by copying their fondness for shade.
Another benefit here of keeping the layers on is that you avoid picking up ticks. These ticks can bring infection into the body which can cause Lyme disease.
At this time of year the silage harvester is typically followed into the field by the slurry tanker. Agitating that slurry is a demanding job. Given our typically mixed summer there isn’t usually a shortage of breezy days and they are ideal for agitating. It is helpful to open all the shed doors and to take a break away from the agitating for half an hour.
On that point, summer days present great chances to take breaks, both short and a bit longer. I am not sure if there is many better ways to recharge and help in the overall scheme of things. There is evidence to support the argument that while we absolutely want to avoid farm accidents, good farmer health is the biggest contributor too overall farmer wellbeing.
After a break you may doubly appreciate the benefits of farming with electricity. It is even so clever now that it is fitted with devices – residual current devices (RCD) that can save you in the event of a problem. They can shut down the current in the event that they detect electricity taking a wrong path. I bet you’ll agree that it is worth making sure they are working. As it happens the RCD is fitted with a test button which when pressed can confirm that the RCD is working.
Many associate the long summer days with farming. With the weather and light being on our side, jobs can get done in an easier manner. Combining this with an emphasis on farmer well-being and safety is something to be delighted with and creates more memories for all.
Finally, one school year is ending up with another one coming towards us in the distance.
A West Cork Teagasc part-time ‘Green Cert’ is being planned for the autumn.
There is an opportunity now to find out what is involved and who might it be suitable for.
Please contact any West Cork Teagasc office, including Macroom at 026 41604, for further details.
• Pat Flannery is Teagasc’s West Cork safety co-ordinator and works with Clonakilty Agricultural College on the Green Cert initiative.