Mayor’s support for farm safety is deeply personal

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has said he hopes that his own personal experience of farm dangers will make other people realise the risks that exist.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:41 pm

Councillor Richard Holmes joined Ulster Farmers’ Union President Victor Chestnutt on his Bushmills farm 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.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Richard Holmes pictured with Councillor Sandra Hunter, who runs her own farm near the Giant’s Causeway, and Victor Chestnutt, president of the UFU. This new crush was recently installed on the Chestnutt family farm outside Bushmills, which will make this type of work safer for everyone

“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.

During his visit the Mayor saw a new crush which was recently installed on the Chestnutt family farm, which will make farm work safer for everyone.

For more information on staying safe on the farm and caring for your mental health visit the Farm Safety Foundation at https://www.yellowwellies.org/resources/.