A new farm safety course has been launched following the rise in accidental deaths on farms in the south west.

In the year to March 2017 there were seven fatal accidents in the region making it the highest total in the UK. Many more accidents caused serious and life changing injuries.

Farm Safety Foundation has worked with Duchy and Bicton Colleges to launch the Introduction to Farm Safety course. Students studying land-based and agricultural courses will be made aware of the risks and hazards that farmers face every day in the workplace.

The course recreates four CSI style farm accident scenes.

Small groups of students will spend approximately 20 minutes at each scenario which were set up at locations on the colleges’ working farms to provide a realistic setting. This approach enables students to work out what may have happened at each 'accident scene', decide what immediate action should be taken, contemplate First Aid implications and explore what measures should be taken to prevent the accident happening in the future.

Roger Clarke, head of agriculture apprentice training at Bicton and Duchy Colleges, said: “We’re determined to reduce the number of accidents taking place on our farms by working with the Farm Safety Foundation to provide practical, hard-hitting training that instils a deep understanding of the need to safe working which will stay with students through their careers.

“As technology advances within farming, the risk of accidents can actually increase. While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can do so much more can make people complacent.

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “As the farmers of the future, young people with a solid knowledge of safe working practices will have a greater capability to make informed and safe decisions which stands the industry in greater stead.

“For young farmers not in further education, we have also launched a 90 minute farm safety session which can be delivered at young farmer club level. We believe that close partnerships with young farmers clubs and the commitment of forward thinking colleges like Bicton and Duchy can make a difference and change attitudes to health and safety in tomorrow’s farming community.”

The Farm Safety Foundation charity was established by rural insurers NFU Mutual in 2014 to raise awareness of farm safety among young farmers, challenge and change their attitudes towards farming safely and reduce the toll of injuries and fatalities which bring heartbreak and misery to farming families and rural communities every year.

Lindsay Sinclair, NFU Mutual chief executive, visited the first of the Foundation’s courses for this year’s new intake of agricultural students at Bicton College on Wednesday October 3.

He said: “It’s great to see that the Farm Safety Foundation’s courses are now being rolled out to cover all new agriculture students studying in the south west. The training programme demonstrates the need to put safety first at all times when working on a farm – and the risks of becoming complacent when working with large machinery and livestock on a daily basis.

“However, it’s clear from the latest farm accident figures that there’s a lot more work to be done to help farmers of all ages work safely and for this reason we’re calling for other organisations involved with farming to help finance the Farm Safety Foundation so it can expand its farm safety programme.”