‘Stay safe to stay alive’ message for NI farmers

A man who lost his right arm in a farming accident has stressed the importance of the agriculture minister’s ‘stay safe to stay alive’ campaign for Farm Safety Week.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA (right) and Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA (left) with Co Tyrone man William Sayers.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA (right) and Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA (left) with Co Tyrone man William Sayers.

William Sayers from Co Tyrone was only 12 years old when his unzipped coat got caught in an unguarded tractor shaft as he helped spread slurry.

“If there had been a guard on that shaft that night, no matter what the weather was like, whether my coat was zipped up or not there was absolutely no chance of my coat getting caught in it,” Mr Sayer said.

“Looking back to the mistakes I made, I would emphasise that if you take a bit more time to think about what you’re about to do so the same thing doesn’t happen to you that happened to me.

“You sometimes think why me, or it’ll never happen to me, but the other side of the coin is that it could happen to you. I’m just thankful I’m alive,” he added.

Minister Edwin Poots said the 8th annual safety campaign has focussed heavily on the impact Covid-19 has had on the farming community and the support packages available, but said it was important to remember that the joys of farm life can quickly “turn into a nightmare” if you aren’t careful.

“Throughout Covid-19, many in the farming community were shielding or not getting out and about as much, and it’s possible that the same level of checks haven’t been carried out. I would ask everyone to take the time now, to be extra careful and vigilant.

“It is vital that farmers pause and think about what they are doing before beginning work with temperamental livestock, high-powered machinery or slurry,” Mr Poots said.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds, whose department is responsible for the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) said: “William Sayers’ story is just one example among many dreadful incidents on our farms in Northern Ireland. Farm Safety Week is supported by the HSENI and this week of events reminds all of us that safety must remain a key priority on all farms.

Mrs Dodds added: “HSENI are also using Farm Safety Week to reinforce their key safety messages and to offer advice to the industry. They have launched their new ‘Farm Safe Essentials’ message which aims to drill down into the key elements and key issues which are the main causes of major incidents and death on our farms. The first is entitled ‘No Brakes, No Chance’.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage farm workers to always give time and consideration to the four key dangers on farms – slurry, animals, falls and equipment. It is essential to work safely to prevent accidents which can kill or lead to serious injuries.”