Today’s focus for Farm Safety Week is livestock, in particular the risk of crush injuries, and challenging farmers to think about improving livestock handling systems to make them safer and more efficient.
R.A.B.I helps many farming people who have suffered accidents and this week we’ll be hearing from farmers who have kindly agreed to share their stories. Today we hear from Paul who was trampled by a bull when moving a herd of bullocks from a farm.
Livestock haulier Paul King still doesn’t understand how he went to work a healthy 57-year-old and woke up a completely different man, paralysed down one side.
In 2012, Paul was in the process of building up a thriving business, having acquired a 16ft pick-up that enabled him to get to remote, rural farms that other livestock hauliers couldn’t access.
He had a ‘routine job’ to move six bullocks from a farm in Raglan, but there is nothing routine in dealing with large, unpredictable animals, weighing close to 970 kilos. A Limousin bull ‘played up’, knocking Paul to the floor and ‘trampling all over him’, fracturing his skull in eight places and damaging one side of his brain.
Paul was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, where the consultant tried to prepare wife Jane for the worst by telling her that her husband probably only had 48 hours to live. Jane’s response was swift: “You don’t know him and how stubborn he is.”
More than three years on, the couple are still fighting to rebuild their life together. Jane said: “Paul was so fit and strong before the accident, muscular with no health problems. He didn’t take any medication. The fact that he was so strong probably saved him.”
Paul, pictured above with Jane, has loaded hundreds, maybe thousands of animals onto lorries in a life in farming. He still doesn’t know why 12 October 2012 was so different to all the other working days in his life. He said: “I was always very safety conscious and believe dog walkers should not walk through fields with big beef cattle in them. Fields of animals are no place for children either and I used to regularly stop people and tell them that. People think ‘it won’t happen to me’. I’ve been around animals all my life and thought I could handle them, but I let my guard down for two seconds and look what happened?
“However qualified or experienced you are it only takes one animal to behave differently to the way it has done in the previous 30 months and you’ve got a big problem. Animals do flip now and then and they can be unpredictable.”
When Paul was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital, he was the fifth farmer to be admitted that week with serious, life-changing injuries. Paul added: “Farming can be dangerous and farmers deserve everything they get, which isn’t much. Treat farm animals with respect, always. And children and dog walkers should simply stay away from them.”