This is the first year the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has had a presence at the bi-annual NSA Welsh Sheep event, a one-day technical event aimed at the sheep industry attracting approximately 5,500 visitors.
HSE worked with the Environment Agency and Lantra Awards to highlight the risks of contamination from chemicals to the environment and individuals.
Contamination of watercourses with sheep dip concentrate is a real problem for the Environment Agency; just 5 ml can kill invertebrates along a 6 km stretch of stream. The risks from sheep dipping, handling chemicals and skin contamination were highlighted on the HSE stand using a light box system.
Visitors were asked to decant a chemical from one container to another, wearing gloves. The light box was then used to show the extent of chemical contamination on the gloves that was not visible to the naked eye. This generated a lot of interest with the farmers and their families who were also shown how to remove the gloves correctly avoiding skin contamination.
The other topic covered on the stand was workplace transport, the second biggest cause of fatal accidents at work. There have been 16 fatal accidents and many serious incidents over the last 10 years involving ATVs (quad bikes). Head injuries are the most common cause of death and everyone riding a quad bike should wear a suitable helmet and receive adequate training. An ATV fault-finding competition was run on the stand to highlight the associated dangers. The faults were not obvious and the participants really had to get hands-on to be able to detect them.
This interactive approach went down really with the farmers, young and old alike. Topics covered included vehicle maintenance, operator training, stability on slopes, etc. The competition winner was Mr Edward Breese of Cemaes, near Machynlleth, with second place going to Mr Simon Mogford from Resolven, Neath.