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Agriculture - Royal Welsh Show

Welcome to the HSE Podcast.

In this episode we visit the Royal Welsh Show to find out what HSE is doing to reduce death and injury in agriculture, Britain's most dangerous industry.

We've got a big campaign this year, 'Make the Promise', you can see on the stand we have giant knots which are actually the promise knots that we're asking farmers and their families to make to make sure that they come home safe at the end of the work day.

But first here's a round up of other Health and Safety news.

HSE has begun a new inspection programme of offshore oil and gas installations. Inspectors will check safety management plans taking into account the aging infrastructure of the UK's platforms so they don't affect the safety of workers on them. After 40 years of oil and gas production in the UK sector of the North Sea more than half of fixed platforms have either exceeded their original design life or will in the near future. Steve Walker, HSE's head of Offshore Safety, said if installation are going to be used beyond their original anticipated design life then operators need to look to the future and anticipate consequences. The inspection programme is expected to continue until September 2013.

A scaffolding contractor from Teesside has been fined after a scaffold collapsed into a public street. HSE prosecuted William Bedford, trading as B & J Scaffolding, following the incident in Middlesborough in 2008. On January the 18th, 85 metres of scaffold overturned in the wind and collapsed. HSE's investigation showed that this scaffolding was not adequately secured to the houses and was missing elements that should have been used to stabilise it. Mr Bedford was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs.

Paul Kenny and Frances Outram have been appointed to the HSE Board as non-executive directors. Mr Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB Union, has been appointed as one of the Board's employee interest representatives and Mrs Outram, an HR specialist, will take special interest in health and safety in small firms. Both will start 3 year terms on the Board from the 1st of October. Robin Dalberg and Hugh Robinson have been re-appointed to the Board for 3 year terms. Judith Donovan and Danny Carrigan are the out-going Board members.

You can stay up-to-date with the latest news and updates from the HSE by visiting the news pages on our website, If you'd rather get the latest news by e-mail then sign up for free regular eBulletins on a range of different health and safety subjects. Sign up at

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Agriculture is officially the most dangerous industry in Britain with proportionately more work-related deaths than in any other sector. This summer HSE attended 3 of the largest agricultural shows including the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells to encourage farmers to make the promise to come home safe as part of a wider programme of activity to help reduce the numbers of people killed or injured on farms.

Programmes anyone? Your programme, it's got your map, it's got your events listed in there, how are you going to manage for the day?

Hi, I'm Sian Clayton, I'm a principal inspector with the HSE in Wales, and today we're on a stand at the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. The whole idea of the Royal Welsh Show, it's to get the farming community together. There's horse riding events going on and there's dancing diggers going on this afternoon and we have Kosak riding, fun robots, there's you know just something for the whole family as well as, you know, trade sales in the agricultural industry.

You've got the most impressive stand here haven't you?

Well it's pretty good, we're really pleased with it. We've got a big campaign this year 'Make the Promise' and you can see on the stand we have giant knots, which are actually the promise knots that we're asking farmers and their families to make to make sure that they come home safe at the end of the work day.

How long has this campaign been running and what are you trying to get people to do?

Well the campaign actually started back in December 2008 and the whole point of it is because of the high number of fatalities we have in agriculture. We actually had 45 deaths in agriculture last year nationally and 38 of those were agricultural workers, and you know the number isn't going down, so we've tried to encourage families to engage in encouraging each other to make sure they come home safely. So the whole idea behind the knot is to raise the awareness and say that actually some accidents are within your control and you can stop them happening if you just take a minute, put a handbrake on, take a second and think about what you're going to do rather than rush, rush, rush to get home, it's better to get home a bit later and safe than not get home at all.

What's really interesting about this perhaps compared to other industries is you've just said you're trying to encourage families to take more care because often I suppose in this line of work it's families that are running farms so it's not a case of, you know, a bad boss sort of pushing someone, it's people pushing themselves.

That's right, I mean I mentioned 45 people were killed in agriculture last year, 21 of those were actually self-employed so that's 21 families who's lost their breadwinner or have lost a member of their family.

I can hear some singing in the background, I've noticed you've actually got a film which is, it's quite moving isn't it, can you tell me a little bit about it?

The idea of the film, what's on it, is people who have actually lost limbs, here's this gentleman and he's lost an arm, another who's lost a leg, young men working on farms, they're explaining, you know, and they've been very good in co-operating and making this film so other people get the message that they say themselves, if they'd stopped and taken a minute they could have save their arms, saved their legs, and there's also families on it talking about the loss of their children, you know, their son who worked on the farm being killed. We're not talking about random numbers, I've mentioned numbers, but these are real people who have been severely injured, you know, affected their livelihood and families who have, you know, have lost brothers, sons, fathers.

So you've got quite a few people in here at the minute, what's the response been, and what's most important, what's the response been to this campaign?

Well the response to this campaign has been fantastic and we've had 29,000 farmers signed up to make the promise, because they can actually physically sign up and get, and then they get information sent through the post to them. But what's been really surprising this week is that we've had people come on the stand and we've talked to the children and get them to make key rings in the shape of knots to take home for their dads, for their mums, for their grandparents, whoever they've got working on the farm, to put messages on them to say 'Come home safe at the end of the day', and a high number of people have come to this stand already know about the campaign, have made the promise, and they've got knots all around their farms, on the gateposts, on their tractors to get that message across.

Can you tell me what you're doing first of all here?

Made a key ring for a tractor. She said to do it.

You work on a farm do you?


Can you just tell me what you've just got him to do?

Make a promise to come home safe.

And had you heard about this campaign before?

Yes. I was here yesterday so I'd heard about it.

And what do you think about it?

I think it's a good idea.

Do you think that farming's a dangerous industry?


I've never been before and I wanted to visit the Royal Welsh Show. I've heard a lot about it and, you know, it's agricultural show for agricultural people rather than some of these other shows which are more aimed at the town people and, you know, that's the reason why I came.

I think the concept is essential to bring home to people, you've got a lot of lone workers, isolated farmers, who are familiar with their tools, and with familiarity grows contempt.

I think a lot of things is that very often you're in harvest time, you're up against the weather sometimes, and you always want to try and get on and so, that's shafts broke or something, and now you just say 'Oh well I'll do it tomorrow', and it doesn't happen and of course you put your life at risk or somebody else at risk, and at the time it didn't seem very important, but when you perhaps sit back obviously you're taking risks that you perhaps don't need to.

We can name five. I can name five major incidences that have happened in our local Somerset area, not only our cousin committed suicide, shot himself, but we also had a colleague loose a leg, Ben, another person who's truck, what was it, tractor went into the slurry pit, he drowned, another person a big ranbell fell onto him, he's paralysed, another one was killed, Polish worker, that's five. In the last six years.

Not a very big area.

Small area. So HSE, Health and Safety, excellent.

Visit the transcript for this Podcast episode at for more information about the issues discussed in this interview.

The HSE, protecting people's health and safety at work.

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Updated 2011-04-08