DEVON farmer Fred Collins speaks about how a life-changing accident forced a change in his attitude to farm safety on Farming Focus, the new podcast for South West farmers. 

Marking Farm Safety Week, the latest episode of the new podcast from Cornish Mutual tackles a subject often not addressed until disaster strikes.

In February last year, Fred Collins’ arm was crushed when a jack failed while changing a tractor tyre. After eight hours of surgery to insert 32 screws into his arm and with extensive nerve damage and months out of action, he is back working on the farm but with greater respect for health and safety.

Talking to Farming Focus podcast host Peter Green, Fred explained how the accident occurred and what has happened since: 'The morning of the accident I was rushing around because time was short. As a small farm I do as much as I can myself to keep costs down and because I was in a rush, I was cutting corners.

 'Since the accident I’ve definitely slowed down and I now think twice about a job before carrying it out. On the day of my accident, there was an axle stand just metres away. It could have prevented the tractor from slipping off the jack, but I was so focused on getting the job done quickly I didn’t think to use it.

'Taking an extra minute to step back and think about what I’m doing ultimately means I’m taking fewer risks and being much safer on farm.'

Fred’s new approach reflects this year’s Farm Safety Week message, Take 5 to stay alive, encouraging farmers to take a few extra minutes before each task to consider its safety.

A sentiment echoed by the podcast episode’s other guests Cornish Mutual Claims Technician Nick Lay and Insurance Director Paul Mahon.

'Trying to rush through tasks might mean you save yourself a bit of time, but if it goes wrong the consequences can have a much larger impact,' warned Nick. 'At Cornish Mutual we see the impact farm accidents have on the individual, their family and the business. Ultimately health and safety is about looking after yourself and the important people around you.'

Paul suggested having a plan in place is important: “When it comes to farm safety you want to be proactive, not reactive. Having an action plan breaking down what can be improved into simple tasks will give you a sense of control. The plan can change and evolve but ultimately it will help ensure your farm is resilient as it can be.

'Cornish Mutual’s specialist in-house advisors can help do this with tailored, practical support through our Farm Health and Safety Service.

'Farming is a high-risk sector and we need to speed up the long-term downward trend in fatal accidents. Every farm fatality is one too many.'