Farmers urged to make safety a priority

Ian Pirie was injured when he was kicked by cattle.

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This is Farm Safety Week with a specific focus this year on not only physical safety, but also mental health and wellbeing.

This year’s slogan – Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice. – raises awareness of the importance of good mental health and the increased potential for accidents to occur when farmers or crofters are not in the right frame of mind.

Until tomorrow (Friday July 20) case studies are being issued surrounding safety on Scotland’s farms and crofts where people tell of their accidents, but also what they have now changed as a result of mishaps.

Injuries caused by livestock continue to remain as one of the main causes of accidents on Scotland’s farms and crofts.

Ian Pirie, a cattle and sheep farmer from Maud, Aberdeenshire, this week spoke about an accident that left him unable to work at one of the busiest times of the year.

Ian, his wife and eldest son, farm near Peterhead where he finishes around 1,000 head of cattle and have 200 breeding ewes.

Although many know the dangers of working with cattle, and farmers and crofters know their herds better than anyone, the animals can be unpredictable.

Ian said that earlier this year he was sorting through a pen of cattle, and one came from behind him, kicking him with its hind legs.

Ian explained: ‘It happened so quickly. I’ve had plenty of kicks by cattle over the past 50 years, so I didn’t think much of it.’

Unfortunately, this kick was not the same as any other. Ian was left with little to no power and control going through his leg and, after leaving it for the night to see if it would improve, he telephoned the doctor the next morning.

‘I went to A&E at Peterhead and had it X-rayed,’ said Ian. ‘It showed that there was a slight chip to my knee, but thankfully it wasn’t broken. I was referred to a consultant and surgeon in Aberdeen who, after further investigation, realised the tendons were all severed above my knee. They operated the next day.

‘If the surgery hadn’t been carried out at that stage my knee wouldn’t have worked properly again. It’s like broken cables, it’s not something that reconnects over time.’

The injury caused Ian to be housebound during one of the busiest times of the year for the farm but thankfully his family helped out.

Looking back on the accident, Ian doesn’t believe there is anything he could have done differently. Working with livestock always has its dangers.

However, Ian is now reviewing and updating the cattle-handling systems on the farm, some of which have not changed for many years.

When working on livestock it is important to use necessary safety equipment, take your time and ensure your safety, and that of those around you, is a priority.