It affects us all. No doubt through our work, school or home lives, the combined words Health and Safety are unlikely to have passed us by without consideration. For some people, it may remind you of an annual course you go on at work where you are taught how to lift properly, and reminded that a Hi - Vis Jacket must be worn in the warehouse at all times. There will be those who view Health and Safety as nothing but simple common sense, and there is also the obvious notion peddled by sensationalists who think anything to do with Health and Safety is simply part of a culture gone mad, or the governments way of meddling in our lives and nannying the population. I must admit there are times when I have taken this opinion on occasion. Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler said the chief danger in life is for one to take too many precautions. It can't possibly be generalised though, as much as the tabloid press my want us to believe, in this way.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event recently run by the Health and Safety Executive aimed at providing practical advice to farmers on how to deal with hazards on British farms. It was delivered through 6 practical demonstrations, delivered by farmers, and covered topics that are considered to pose the highest risks we face on farms. It wasn't patronising, it was informative, and it was fairly eye opening. The fatal injury rate in Agriculture per 100,000 workers is 9.12. To put that into perspective, in the construction industry, it's 1.62, and ACROSS ALL INDUSTRIES it's 0.46.
You may view that and think ' well of course, if you're working in a job where you're regularly at heights, surrounded by large machinery, chemicals, unpredictable livestock, heavy loads and dangerous implements, the statistics will always be against you. However I would say when you are 20 Times more likely to be killed working on a farm than working in any other job outside of construction, something is wrong. Plus, who on earth would be daft enough to let a loved one go and work in that industry. Suddenly Health and Safety doesn't seem to be part of a culture gone mad. It's a very real way of reducing the risk of dying doing something you do most days.
The great thing about the course though, was not to dwell on these statistics, they were merely mentioned to capture attention. Something was reiterated throughout the day. Fines for breaches of health and safety aren't handed out like parking tickets might be. In the majority of cases, the folks who you think are telling you how to suck eggs when they say 'lift from the knees' are simply trying to make sure you don't suffer from chronic back pain in your twilight years. I'm quite sure they are simply trying to help you, and help others, in creating a culture of health and safety, where it is the norm to take an extra 30 seconds to think about the task in front of you and wonder if there's a better, safer way of doing it.
On the farm here, wet weather has continued to delay any chance of field activity. Crops need feeding, seed beds will soon need preparing, and the backlog of work is piling up. There's going to be some late evenings for many farmers coming when the land does start to dry out. Lambs are starting to appear in fields across the county. We are preparing for ours to come fairly soon. Don't forget to keep your dogs on leads in fields where livestock are present!