The Health Hub at Midlands Machinery Show urged farmers to look after their health and safety, with demonstrations of what to do if they are involved in, or see, a farm accident and the opportunity to have their blood pressure taken and speak with the Farming Community Network.
Visitors were also given some first aid tips, including a demonstration of someone trapped in a machine. As well as calling for an ambulance, the advice included isolating machinery, checking for consciousness and stemming the bleeding.
James Bannister, chairman of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, lost his arm in a potato harvester 24 years ago and described holding it as he was lying on the stretcher. “It took some doing, I knew it had gone,” he said.
While he still does contracting work, the accident had an immense impact on his life. “One day I went to work as normal and the next my life had changed forever. Farming has a bad safety record,” he said. “The message I want to get across is to switch off tractors and farm machinery before you try to do anything else [like mending or deblocking it].”
Medical officer Dr Margaret McDougald, advanced first aider and chair of trustees at Newark Community First Aid, had a number of visitors attend the Health Hub to have their blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked.
“One person had very high blood pressure and another, elevated blood sugar levels – I advised them to see their GP,” she said. “It is better to pick these factors up before they lead to diabetes or other complaints.”
She also advised visitors on adopting a healthier lifestyle without setting impossible goals. “Alcohol should only be drunk in moderation and smokers should give up,” she said.
“Also get adequate sleep and regular exercise. If walking 10,000 steps a day is hard then look at your daily average. Try to add another 1,000 steps each week to your average. You will start to look for ways to add that small bit and eventually you will find opportunities to add more.”
Rachael Davy, marketing executive at the Farming Community Network, said it was important for farmers to talk about issues like the cost of living crisis and feelings of isolation. “While younger farmers are more engaged with others and talk more, older farmers often find it difficult.”
One visitor to the Midlands Machinery Show stressed the importance of demonstrations and talks concerning well-being and health and safety. “We need to improve as an industry and help farmers realise the impact poor health and safety can have on their businesses.”
Events show and development manager Elizabeth Halsall said the Health Hub had given show visitors immediate access to health checks, the opportunity to see first-hand a realistic farm accident scenario and administer first aid. And the chance to hear about the impact a farm accident had on a contractor’s life.
“It is vital to continue working to get the message across to farmers about improving health and safety, for the benefit of themselves, their families and staff and the Midlands Machinery Show Health Hub plays an important part in this,” she said.