Friday 22 September, 2023

View from the rostrum: No excuse not to take safety seriously

Alastair Sneddon on farm safety.

clock • 2 min read
View from the rostrum: No excuse not to take safety seriously

Alastair Sneddon on farm safety. 

Much is made of farming’s abysmal health and safety record and the cavalier attitude to such matters, but I sense the tide is turning.

A few years ago, there was a general resignation to the fact that farming was a dangerous industry and that there was an accident waiting out there for everyone, with little that could be done to prevent it.

This fostered a sort of ‘Battle of Britain’ attitude where you could imagine a lot of chaps in flying boots listening to a wind-up gramophone waiting for the signal to ‘scramble’ into yet another dangerous situation.

As auctioneers, we can be at the sharp end of some of these incidents and also by virtue of the age and health status of some of our customers, find ourselves directly involved when someone is ‘taken poorly’ on-site.

I recently attended a first aid course organised by our local NFU and found myself in a group of farmers all seeking training on the subject. 

Several of them had clearly felt the need to attend because diversification projects had brought the public onto their farms and they needed to deal with occasions when first aid was needed.

I think one of the most encouraging lessons from the course was how much better your chances are of saving a life using a defibrillator than without one.

We have one at the market, but I never realised the difference it could make.

We also have a set of very heavy duty jump leads - for those who have left their lights on. The two pieces of equipment are not interchangeable.

We are told many people are killed or injured by moving vehicles very often in the dark.

I am not a fan of high-vis  in daylight hours and, although many farmers wear such garments, it tends to lose its impact.

However, after dark the fluorescent strip comes into its own and whoever invented it, certainly deserves a medal.

Anyone doing anything legal after dark on a highway, farmyard or market should carry the responsibility of ensuring they are clearly visible. 

One area of farm safety that is making slow progress is the wearing of helmets on quad bikes.

As a cyclist, I never leave home without a helmet and would feel that if I did, that it would be inviting disaster.

The big change came in the cycling world when organisers of the Tour de France made it mandatory in international cycle racing.

Every road cyclist wants to emulate their heroes and as they have to wear a helmet, if you wanted to look
like them, then you did too. 

It is surely nothing to do with cost when I note the well-dressed young farmer sporting expensive wellies of a particular brand, to say nothing of the almost compulsory gilet with the unprouncable German name.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the BBC.

Countryfile visited Bakewell Market recently and I awaited the showing of the programme with a sense of trepidation.

I was, however, delighted with the result, as were the many people who contacted us to pass comment.

Alastair Sneddon

Alastair Sneddon is a senior partner and livestock auctioneer at Bagshaws.
Call 07973 982 441, or email [email protected]




Dee Bank Farm, Mount Road, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 7LT

Dee Bank Farm, Mount Road, Leek, Staffordshire,


Easter Kinnear Farm, By Newport-On-Tay, Fife

Easter Kinnear Farm, By Newport-On-Tay, Fife


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