We were very lucky to be joined by Stephanie Berkely, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation in the UK. She spoke to our host, Mike Brine, about how they show farmers the reality of farm accidents.
Below is a highlight of the full interview with Stephanie. You can listen to the entire podcast episode on your favourite player or app including Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon and Stitcher. Don’t forget to follow and/or subscribe to hear about all new episodes!
Farmers no matter where they are from, always look after their farm operation first. Most don’t realize that they are the farms greatest asset and normally safety is a topic people shy away from. “That won’t happen to me” or “I’ve done it this way for years” statements are frequently heard and as a younger generation of farmer emerges the Farm Safety Foundation is looking to change that mentality.
Mike Brine – “I remember standing in the yard of my neighbor after he’d been killed in a farming accident and talking to someone else, and the conversation went, [You know, we’ve all done something like that. And 99 times out of 100, we get away with it.] And that attitude there that we’ve always gotten away with, we’ve always done it that way and it’s been fine. That plays into it…It’s about a mindset.”
In the UK, farming accounts for 1% of the working population, but accounts for 20% of all workplace deaths (HSE Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing Report in GB 2021/2022). They are dedicated to getting farmers to think about themselves as part of the farm operation. Accidents are life changing and can have lasting consequences. They are an independent charity setup to preserve and protect the physical and mental wellbeing of the next generation of farmers across the UK. The Farm Safety Foundation delivers innovative farm safety training to over 11,000 young farmers in 44 different land-based colleges and universities across the UK and through the Young Farmers Clubs network.
Stephanie – “A lot of the issues that we have in the industry are basic attitudinal changes, and we’ve seen a change in attitudes of the next generation, thinking twice about taking risks, thinking about the consequences of having that accident….It’s about challenging behaviors, but also it’s about ending those attitudes to risk taking.
Stephanie has previously worked at a science and discovery centre in Belfast and uses this approach to develop their education programs. She wanted to bring hands-on learning with real life situations to keep their approach current. One of these tools she referred to as a “speed dating” event. Participants are broken into groups and given various emergency situations involving a family member, co-worker etc. They needed to determine how they would help that individual in 15 minutes and then moved onto the next scenario. This gave farmers the opportunity to see how quickly accidents can evolve and test their ability to make quick decisions across a variety of emergency situations.
Stephanie – “It’s just that human aspect where you disappear suddenly inside your brain going, wow, this is the consequence for me. It’s not, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this. [It’s] if this guy does this job and it’s unsafe…these are the consequences for my business.”
Another one of their initiatives is “Mind Your Head”. This campaign provides farmers with education and resources regarding what poor mental health is, how to recognize and address it.
Stephanie – “We have about 50 ambassadors who…have various levels of experiences of either having an accident, being touched by an accident, being aware of or having lost somebody to a mental health condition or [struggling] themselves….”
- Guide for Young Farmers
- Parents Safety Guide
- Temporary Workers Guide
- Farm Emergency Plan
- Farm Safety Checklist
Their educational programs, research and annual campaigns are continuing to tackle major issues across the industry. They are ensuring the next generation of farmers will have the skills to live and farm well for many years. They continue to work with a range of farm organizations to raise awareness, change attitudes and reduce the toll of injuries across rural communities every year.
Stephanie – “And that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to debunk the [myth] around things like risk assessments. You get up in the morning and make yourself a cup of tea. You don’t lift it straight up to your mouth to take a drink because it’s going to burn your mouth. That’s a risk assessment. If a kid’s got Lego is on the ground, you’re not going to walk through it because that’s worse than walking through fire. Thinking about what could go wrong, thinking about what you could do to make it safe and then deciding to do it…. This is the important thing that they’ve got to understand, we’re doing this because we care about them. [We] value the contribution they make to the economy, to everyone and to our plates every day.”
To learn more about the Farm Safety Foundation their background, current work and research visit their website here. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for updates on all things farm safety!