Safety plea by NFU president

NATIONAL Farmers’ Union leader Peter Kendall has challenged the agriculture industry to shed its tag as the country’s most dangerous.

Formally launching Farm Safety Month at the Suffolk Show this week, the NFU president said that more than 450 people had lost their lives in farming over the past 10 years.

The construction industry, meanwhile, had achieved a major cultural change in attitudes to safety and had driven down the number of deaths and injury accidents, he said.

Mr Kendall told an invited audience that he had hosted a visit to his Bedfordshire farm on the eve of the show. Out of the members of his study group, two had lost people who had worked on their farms, one of them a family member, in the last 10 years, he said.

“When you replicate that over the industry and the country as a whole, it makes farming the most dangerous industry in the country,” said Mr Kendall.

“I promise you, wherever I go in the length and breadth of England and Wales as president of the NFU, I always hear of a cluster of deaths or maiming accidents on farms. It is truly scary.” he added.

“We want to make sure that we all go about and raise awareness. It is so easy to find excuses not to stop, think and be careful.”

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A powerful message was delivered at the launch by James Chapman, chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, who lost his left arm when it was torn off by a PTO (power take off) on a tractor.

Mr Chapman, who lives in Warwickshire, spoke of the impact on his life – even cutting up a steak single-handed was impossible – and his message was stark: “Don’t let it happen to you”.

“Try spending an hour with your left hand in your pocket working on a farm,” said Mr Chapman.

He added that last week, he had needed to buy a new PTO shaft and guard. It cost �100. “Is it too much to spend to save an arm and a life?” he asked.

The Farm Safety campaign, which offers free training courses to farmers across East Anglia, will end at the Royal Norfolk Show later this month.