Minister joins farm safety campaign

A CROSS-BORDER minister is urging farmers in his parish and throughout the country to come home safely from their fields as he lends his support to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) 'Make the Promise' campaign.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 9:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 9:25 am

Rev Robin McHaffie, minister of Yetholm Parish Church, has been distributing 'promise knots' to farms in his cross-border parish, encouraging farmers to put them up around where they work as a reminder to take care in a bid to help to reduce the number of needless farm accidents each year.

Across Great Britain, 38 workers lost their lives in farming-related incidents from January to November 2009. In Scotland five workers were fatally injured and 74 seriously injured in farming accidents in 2008/09.

Visiting Shotton Farm, Mindrum, one of 70 farms in his parish, Rev McHaffie said: "As a minister working in a farming community I was heartened to read of the 'Make the Promise' campaign.

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"I am so aware of the devastation to a family that one moment's lack of concentration can bring. Nothing can undo it. Within a moment a wife can become a widow and children orphans - a broken family facing life alone.

"If hanging this knot on pieces of farm equipment, gates or posts means that I am never again called upon to attend the result of a farm 'accident', then there can be no greater gift to our farming community," he added.

HSE inspector Lawrence Murray said: "All too often I investigate deaths or serious injuries in and around farms in Scotland. Like Rev McHaffie I see first hand the terrible grief that families face when someone is killed, and it is heartbreaking - particularly when farmers keep dying for the same reasons.

"I am delighted at the support Rev McHaffie has shown for our campaign and his work with the Borders farming community.

"HSE offer farmers training, support and guidance on how to keep themselves and their workers safe and we'd much rather be doing that than dealing with the horrific consequences of accidents, many of which are preventable.

"The recent severe weather and the very real problems this caused highlights only too clearly the need for farmers to take extra care and not expose themselves to unnecessary risks."

Mr Murray added: "For those 1515 farmers across Scotland we know have made the promise to come home safe, and the many more who may have made the pledge privately, the challenge for them now is to keep it. Let's make 2010 the year that everyone comes home safe."

NFU Scotland president, Jim McLaren added: "Any death or serious injury on a Scottish farm or croft is a tragedy that, in many cases, can be avoided.

"The HSE campaign rightly focuses on the impact that these accidents have on families, friends and businesses but backs that up with readily available information on how to make any farm a safer place to work. Whether you are a new entrant to the sector, or an old hand at farming, there are simple steps that we can all take to ensure such tragedies do not blight our lives."

As part of the campaign, farmers can request 'Promise Knots' to place around their homes and farms as a simple, but ever-present reminder of the commitment they have made to come home safe.

For more information on the campaign visit www.hse.gov.uk/makethepromise