More than 60 Devon farmers marked the start of this year’s Farm Safety Week by attending a special safety event at Holsworthy livestock market, organised by the NFU’s Halwill branch.

Representatives from organisations including NFU Mutual, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Western Power, Smallridge Bros, Kernow Training and the YFC covered topics including fire prevention, working at height, quad bike safety, working near power lines, emergency first aid and keeping power take off (PTO) shafts safe.

Top tips from the day included always wearing a helmet when using a quad bike, checking ladders are in good repair and can carry sufficient weight before going up them, knowing what to do if machinery comes into contact with overhead power lines and making sure guards are fitted to PTO shafts.

The Farm Community Network led sessions about how farmers can look after their mental health, as they can often spend long periods working alone – an issue which is often overlooked.

Farm Safety Week is held annually to try and improve agriculture’s poor safety record. The latest report from the Health and Safety Executive revealed that in 2016/17 there were 10 fatal accidents and 5,759 non-fatal injuries recorded on farms in the south west, many of them serious.

Most people killed or injured on farms are involved in accidents whilst working with livestock or machinery.

Halwill NFU group secretary Simon Whattler said: “We were delighted to have such a positive response and hope that any lessons learned on the day, however small, will be taken back to our members’ farms and implemented. There is nothing worse than visiting a farm after a serious accident to assist and console, I have had to do it too many times over the years. Please take care guys!”

NFU Devon county adviser Andrew Butler said: “Any farm accident can take a tremendous toll on the business, so quite apart from anything else improving health and safety is a wise financial investment. It was very encouraging to see so many farmers taking an interest and turning out today and we hope they have learned something that will help keep them and their families safe.”