Working with an animal is not an unusual job requirement for most farmers within the Agriculture or farming sector. Health and safety should be considered when working with livestock, especially cattle as it always involves some risks.
According to the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland, 18 farmers have lost their lives over the last decade due to livestock incidents. Meanwhile, safety statistics by the HSE lists 27 farm workers suffering a fatal injury in 2016/2017 within the UK agriculture sector.
Recently, a man died on a farm in Ireland after being attacked by a “freshly-calved cow”. This is already the fifth farm fatality recorded in Ireland this year. These are not isolated incidents and ‘the “it won’t happen to me” attitude should be avoided’, warns the Farm Safety Foundation.
The HSE lists non-fatal injuries caused by animals as the second most common type of accidents within the agriculture sector. The effects from these injuries can be severe and often life-changing. What’s more, accidents could prove to be fatal if farmers are working alone and unable to call for immediate medical assistance.
Stop and Think Safe – Key Advice
The “Stop and Think SAFE” campaign was introduced to reduce the high rates of serious accidents and deaths on Northern Ireland farms. SAFE covers the four main causes of fatal accidents on a farm and they are; Slurry, Animals, Falls from a height and Equipment.
We have compiled some of the key tips highlighted by the HSENI from the Stop and Think SAFE campaign, to help ensure the safety of you or your employees when working with livestock:
- Always make sure the handlers are fully trained and competent when dealing with animals.
- Plan an escape route in advance of working with cattle.
- Be extra careful around bulls and cows with new-born calves.
- Safety signs should be displayed at every entrance where a bull is kept.
- Always wear suitable protective clothing when handling animals.
- Use cattle handling pens or facilities that are designed to promote cattle movement, while also protecting workers from being crushed.
- Regularly check and maintain all farm facilities including gates and fences.
- Ensure floor surfaces are slip-resistant and in good condition at all times to avoid accidents such as slips or trips.
Warning signs of animal aggression or sudden change in behaviour can be unpredictable, so it would also be advisable to carry a personal safety alarm if you’re working alone with animals. This would allow you to raise an alarm if you’re suddenly attacked or suffer a serious injury.
Every employer has a duty of care requirement to ensure the safety of their employees at work. Using well designed and appropriate livestock handling system may seem expensive. However, it will help to reduce injuries caused by animals as well as other legislative consequences such as H&S fines.