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NFU Mutual warns farmers of livestock handling hazards
9:00am Saturday 8th September 2012 in News
The UK’s leading rural insurer NFU Mutual is warning farmers of the hazards of livestock handling following 81 deaths in the last decade.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that 81 people were killed in accidents involving livestock in the 10 years to year to March 2011.
“We understand the needs of those who live and work in the countryside and have chosen this time to highlight the issue as livestock farmers and smallholders are about to start housing stock as autumn progresses, putting them at higher risk of accidents,” said Richard Percy, NFU Mutual Chairman.
“Accidents involving livestock have been happening for many years, but we are concerned that because farmers and farm workers now often run large units alone, which means there is no-one around to help them in the event of an accident.
“Deaths are only part of the story, at NFU Mutual we are dealing with a number of claims which could result in settlements up to five million Pounds to help people who have received devastating injuries while working with cattle .
“Tragically, some of these people will never work again, and the effects of their accidents may well affect the future of their families and farms.
“As a farmer myself, I’m well aware that complacency is the biggest threat to life and limb. When we do a task every day, there’s a real temptation to take shortcuts, putting ourselves at risk by not observing safe working practices.
“It’s vital to remember that cattle – particularly bulls – are unpredictable and that the risk of an accident increases when handling livestock in confined spaces such as yards, cattle races and when loading cattle onto vehicles.
“In my experience, it is always the bull that has shown no aggression in the past that catches you out, everyone stays clear of the grumpy one! So beware the quiet bull.
”Cows with newly born calves can also act aggressively having never had a history of bad behaviour.”
As the insurer of over 70% of the UK’s farms, NFU Mutual deals with many thousands of claims and is a founder member of the UK Farm Safety Partnership. The company is helping farmers work more safely by sharing information about the common accidents and their causes.
David Leavesley, safety consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services recommends farmers use a ‘Top Ten’ livestock handling checklist to help them avoid accidents.
“Every livestock farmer in the land will probably know the points I am going to give you – but the trouble is that when you’re working against the clock and repeating tasks day in, day out, safe practices tend to get forgotten – and that’s when accidents happen,” he said.
“These are the top 10 essentials – it’s well worth going online to get a more detailed briefing on the HSE, HSENI or H&SA – that’s the Irish equivalent – websites.”
LIVESTOCK HANDLING SAFETY CHECKLIST Always tell a relative or friend where you will be working and when you should be back Keep your mobile ‘phone in a chest pocket so you can call for help if you become trapped or are injured and unable to move Always take a moment to consider the risks of a task Work out an escape route or refuge area Only allow people who are competent and agile to handle cattle Wear suitable protective clothing Use proper handling facilities, which you keep in good working order Put in place a culling policy for fractious or dangerous animals No one should ever enter a bull pen when the bull is loose Avoid keeping cows with calves or bulls in fields with public access
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