No Excuses  – When it comes to Safety

No Excuses  – When it comes to Safety

Time never stands still for agricultural contractors. The British weather keeps them under constant pressure and there is always another customer waiting for them to arrive. Maintaining a professional service can be difficult when working long hours, whilst managing a team of operators working in a variety of locations.

However, it is vital that safety remains a top priority when planning work and organising machinery and staff, as there can never be any excuse for cutting corners.

Prior training for the team will stand the business in good stead, but it is important to have regular refreshers to make sure that standards don’t slip if work pressure increases. Machinery must be kept in roadworthy condition at all times and operators must be instructed to take care to switch off before any repairs or unblocking is carried out. Whilst it may be tempting to save a few precious seconds the consequences can be devastating. In addition, it is important that each new customer supplies instructions about potential hazards to avoid ‘accidents’.

Whilst not an exciting prospect to implement, high standards of health and safety must be a top priority for every contracting operation and the NAAC has been assisting its membership, with a free package available to all members. This gives them detailed instruction to put together their own tailored records, alongside free access to a health and safety consultant, encouraging businesses to take responsibility and ownership of their own safety procedures.

We have all seen the statistics in the press that farming has the highest fatality rate per head of workers. We read far too regular reports of deaths in our industry, indiscriminately claiming the lives of children, parents, husbands, wives and grandparents, yet it seems we may be becoming immune to these horrifying facts.

We are expert at absolving the blame, taking a somewhat macho attitude to safety, convincing ourselves it’s because we work alone, or have an ageing workforce or perhaps that we are under work stress and therefore cutting corners is acceptable? Well it really isn’t. For those families that have suffered the trauma of losing a loved one, or a valued member of the team, no amount of time saved will have been worth it.

Accidents do happen, but not at the rate of shocking statistics we see in agriculture. It is time to stop making excuses and take full responsibility. Contractors can lead the way, setting an example with professional standards and making certain that they work in partnership with customers.

We urgently need to encourage new entrants to farming and so we must take proactive steps to equip everyone with the confidence to question unsafe practices and make our industry a much safer place to work.

 

Jill Hewitt is the Technical Consultant at the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and has worked alongside agricultural contractors for eighteen years.

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For further information contact:

Jill Hewitt, NAAC Technical Consultant Tel: 07889 511245 email: jill.hewitt@naac.co.uk