Agri Food news

Enhanced farm safety practices will take pressure off NHS

Ian Stevenson, chief executive, LMC.

Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) has launched a social media campaign, urging farmers to go the extra mile in thinking safe over the coming weeks.

In so doing, the Commission is also highlighting the fact that improved farm safety standards will help take the pressure off the NHS at a time when that organisation is stretched to almost breaking point dealing with the Covid-19 challenge.

“We are about to enter the busiest time of the year for farmers across Northern Ireland,” said Ian Stevenson, chief executive, LMC. “But it shouldn’t be taken as a given that farm accident rates will rise in a commensurate fashion.

“Every farm accident can be avoided. The onus is on farmers and contactors to think through the potential impact of every action they take before so doing.

“And, of course, every farm accident that an ambulance and hospital emergency team is asked to deal with reduces the resources which the NHS can make available to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.”

LMC has launched its new health and safety initiative in line with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland’s advice to ‘Stop and Think’, adding that we must keep our emergency services where we need them right now.

The Commission is an affiliate member of Northern Ireland’s Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) and has a long track record of promoting the highest possible safety standards on local farms. It was recently awarded a Highly Commended certificate by FSP for helping to promote health, wellbeing and safety to farming families across Northern Ireland. Activities of this nature are supported by the distribution of ‘high vis’ vests to children at Balmoral Show.

“We are calling on those farming to maximise diligence and their farm safety precautions so that NHS workers can focus on dealing with the pressures arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, where they are needed most at the present time,” said Stevenson.

“Children and young people living on farms are not attending school at the present time. Given this reality, LMC is urging parents and adults to have precautions in place and teach children about safety on the farm.”

Commenting specifically on the Covid-19 precautions, which farmers should implement, he stressed the need for farmers to think about protecting their own health and wellbeing and make sure the requisite social distancing measures advised by government are implemented at all times.

“Hand washing must take place on-farm when receiving deliveries or essential visitors,” he said. “When out making essentials journeys to feed merchants and agri-supplies stores, farmers must take heed of precautions that have been put in place by these businesses to protect customers and staff. Protect yourself, protect the NHS.”

The LMC’s new health and safety campaign will be managed from the organisation’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. It follows on from the Commission’s recent social media campaign, highlighting the critically important work undertaken by workers within the farming and food sectors as the entire nation faces-up to the Covid-19 challenge.

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