The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has met the president of the Ulster Farmers Union to show his support for Farm Safety Week 2021.
Councillor Richard Holmes joined Victor Chestnutt on his Bushmills farm today (Friday 23rd July) with Councillor Sandra Hunter to help highlight the importance of staying safe.
Councillor Holmes was raised on a dairy and beef farm near Garvagh where he still lives.
“Unfortunately, I’m only too aware of the potential for tragedy as my dad slipped on our concrete yard and suffered a head injury, passing away 10 days later. It was a devastating experience for our family and one we continue to live with every day. I’ve been trampled by a herd of cows myself as a child and know of numerous near misses and serious injuries from neighbours and friends,” he said.
Councillor Holmes hopes that his own experiences will make others realise the risks which exist.
“Health and safety is a hugely important issue facing farmers and I don’t want anyone to go through the pain that we’ve experienced. Slips, trips and falls can happen out of the blue, with terrible consequences and unfortunately, we don’t always pay enough attention to safety matters when we’re busy getting jobs done with other issues taking priority instead.
“As well as the physical dangers, many farmers carry around a ‘mental load’ that none of us can see. Recent research from the University of Aberdeen has shown that stress and fatigue are two of the main accident triggers, and by simply taking a break, no matter how short it is, you can help to protect yourself. Farming can be very lonely and it is vital that farmers feel able to discuss mental health issues. I would ask anyone reading this to please reach out and access the help that is available.
“Given the year we have just experienced, making sure we are all looking after our physical and mental wellbeing has never been more important.”
This year, a key focus of Farm Safety Week is keeping children safe on farms, especially during the summer months when they spend more time at home.
“It only takes a momentary lapse for an accident to occur. I would urge all parents to talk to their children about keeping safe and take all necessary steps to protect children from on-farm dangers,” Councillor Holmes added.
Led by the leading farming charity Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Week (19-23 July), takes place across the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.