The importance of farm safety

CLA Vice President and Chair of the Farm Safety Partnership, Gavin Lane, writes about his ambitions to explore safety technology that is the norm in cars for farm equipment

I doubt many of us spend much time thinking about the safety features on most of the kit that we buy. Rarely does the seller point these features out, and several months down the line from buying you tend to find these features out for yourself.

Nearly four years after purchasing my car, I find out that it can sense the car in front of me, and if I get too close, it slams the brakes on. I found out about three months ago that it can also stop me from reversing with the door open by, yet again, putting the brakes on and stopping me from going backward.

Why do manufacturers bother with these features when so many of us have no idea they are there? I presume it is a mix of market differentiation, litigation from disgruntled customers and an eager gang of engineers and designers.

So, why don't we see the same in agricultural equipment? I am horrified that we still see deaths from reversing trailers as well as other farm machinery. What allows the complacency within the manufacturers and our industry that stops reversing warning sounds and lights being the norm on new trailers? Could other ideas be developed to pick up human movement close to moving machinery and automatically switch the kit off?

This would not stop the loss of life on existing equipment, but it would be the start of a change in mindset on farm safety where the kit was bought not just for its horsepower but for all the "invisible" safety features that one day might save a life.

I hope that in my role as chair of the Farm Safety Partnership, this is something I can explore more.

The Farm Safety Partnership is a group of organisations, including the Country Land & Business Association, that share the common goal of improving the industry’s safety record. The Partnership’s work is underpinned by the Farm Safety Charter, which taps into the expertise of all organisations that have agricultural interests, including training providers, membership organisations and machinery dealers.

In my role as chair of the FSP, I am continuing the dialogue with all organisations involved to build on the good work already done.