Farmers urged to ‘Take Five!’

Robin Swann. (Editorial Image)

Robin Swann. (Editorial Image)

A local Assemblyman is urging farmers and contractors to “Take Five” safety steps before they undertake any new piece of work.

The appeal comes from Ulster Unionist MLA for North Antrim, Robin Swann, who is a former member of the previous Stormont Agriculture Committee and a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster as well as a Past Chairman of the Rural Youth Europe organisation.

Mr Swann said: “Whenever the weather improves, and as the summer is upon us, this is a time when many people are visiting farms.

“It is also a time when farmers and contractors are working on slurry pits, which are perhaps among the most potentially dangerous locations on any farm.

“Following on from past tragedies, I encourage all farmers and contractors in Northern Ireland, and especially in my native North Antrim, to ‘take five’ in relation to slurry pit and all on farm safety,” said Mr Swann.

“I urge all people in our agricultural community to take a few minutes before they start a job, either spreading slurry or dealing with a slurry pit, and assess the dangers and risks to yourself and others,” he said.

“One of the best safety policies I have encountered is the Take Five programme devised by the New South Wales State Emergency Service in Australia,” said Mr Swann.

He explained: “These rules come under five headings – 1- stop, stand back, observe; 2- think through the risk; 3 - identify hazards; 4 - assess and control risks; 5 - continually monitor risks.”

“Indeed, these policies would not only apply to farmers and contractors, but should be observed by all members of the general public who are visiting farms which contain slurry pits,” the Ulster Unionist Assemblyman said.

And, he added: “I also hope our new Stormont Department for farming and rural affairs, Farmers Union and Young Farmers’ Clubs across the Province will join my campaign to get the Take Five programme formally implemented as part of the overall farm safety guidelines for the whole of Northern Ireland’s agricultural sector.”