R.A.B.I is supporting Farm Safety Week, which runs from July 24-28. The initiative is supported by organisations across the farming sector, including the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships and the Health & Safety Executive.
Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any occupation in the UK. Last year’s HSE Health & Safety Agriculture report stated there were 27 fatalities in Britain in 2015/16.
R.A.B.I can provide financial and practical support to farmers who have had accidents at work.
When it comes to handling cattle, Wyn Jones is as experienced as they come.
The 43-year-old has worked part-time for his local cattle market for a decade, dealing with an estimated 12,000 cattle per year. He also keeps beef, sheep and suckler cows at his own farm in Llanerchymedd, Anglesey.
He’s neverbeen afraid of cattle, and still isn’t. However, in January 2016 he suffered an accident which left him with a broken back and an injured shoulder. Wyn knows it could have been much worse. He explained: “The accident happened at my own farm at 3am in the morning. A cow was calving and I went to see to her. It was an awful night, wet and windy. I knew this particular cow could be a bit touchy but we had a mutual respect and she’d always been OK with me.”
That night, rather than go through the main door where he could be clearly seen, Wyn thought it would be easier to cut through the feed barrier. There was plenty of light, but he ‘spooked’ the cow and she knocked him to the floor. Wyn found himself in a corner with nowhere to go and the animal’s head pressing down on his chest. He tried to fight back the best he could and managed to slide under a gate into an adjoining calving pen.
Incredibly, after staggering to his feet, he grabbed a pitchfork and went back in through the main door to deliver the calf. But he knew he’d been hurt and was aching from head to foot.
Wyn tried to carry on as normal the best he could for the next couple of days. He was heavily bruised on his chest and arms but it was his back that troubled him most. Eventually, he went to see his GP and, after a couple of consultations, the local hospital diagnosed a hairline fracture of the back. For the next two-and-a-half months he was unable to work at the market, losing valuable income. He also needed the help of family and friends to maintain his own farm. R.A.B.I helped out with an emergency grant of £2k.
“In hindsight, I should never have gone through the feed barrier,” said Wyn. “Usually, I would always go through the steel door, it’s noisy and the animals can see who’s there.
“I’m experienced – and I’d known this cow for a long time – we understood each other. But I startled her.”
Wyn’s advice to others is: ‘know your handling place, have an escape route and don’t cut corners’.