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3rd Feb 2016
tractor on farm

The culture of safety in farming has to change, for financial, legal and moral reasons – that is the hard-hitting message which will be conveyed by one of the industry’s leading health and safety experts at a farmers’ meeting in Halesworth next week.

Neil Whatling, health and safety consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, will tell dozens of farmers attending the latest Lovewell Blake Farmers’ Evening at Halesworth Golf Club next Wednesday that a major cultural shift is required to reduce the shocking toll of agricultural accidents.

37 agricultural workers were killed in work-related incidents last year, largely due to a feeling that ‘it’ll never happen to me’, according to Mr Whatling, who has worked in and around agriculture for over 35 years.

“Many farmers, and especially those in the older age bracket, who statistically are the most likely to be the victim of a fatality, have grown up in a culture in which safety was never a priority,” said Mr Whatling.  “I want to introduce different ways we can approach agricultural work which will tackle that cultural issue.  It will take time, but it’s essential.

“It’s not just about the financial and legal obligations that farmers shoulder, but it should also be a moral issue.  We owe it to farmers, their families and their workforce to ensure that we introduce a culture which embraces and values safety in the workplace.”

Mr Whatling’s presentation will draw on a number of anecdotes and ‘war stories’ to illustrate why this is important, as well as setting out the ‘musts’ – the statutory duties which all farm businesses face.

“My father sold agricultural machinery, and both my grandfathers worked on farms, so this is something I am passionate about,” said Mr Whatling.

The Farmers’ Evening is one of a series of such presentations organised by accountants Lovewell Blake’s agriculture team, in conjunction with Suffolk Coastal NFU.  It takes place at Halesworth Golf Club on Wednesday 10th February at 7.30pm, and will include a buffet.  Attendance is free; to book a place, call Brian Bale on 01986 873163.