SOUTH OF Scotland MSP Emma Harper has brought her campaign to promote helmet safety in rural communities to the heart of Holyrood.

Politicians and farming stakeholders gathered to send out the message to agricultural workers that wearing a helmet whilst riding quad bikes is a necessity to prevent severe brain injuries in the event of an accident.

Bringing a quad bike to the Garden Lobby in the Scottish Parliament to highlight the issue to the nation's MSPs, Ms Harper said that many may be unaware of their constituents' reluctance to heed safety warnings around quads.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was one of many politicians to get involved: "It makes sense to ensure that our farmers and farm workers are safe, secure and protected," said the north-east Fife MSP, who represents one of Scotland’s major fruit and vegetable farming regions.

There are around 1000 quad bike-related injuries and two deaths per year in Scotland, prompting NFU Scotland to adopt a new policy of no longer using photos, videos and advertisements of agricultural workers on ATVs unless a helmet is being worn – or, if the person is not riding the quad bike, a helmet should at least be seen in the photo.

Commenting on her #HingYerHelmet campaign, Ms Harper said: "The South Scotland region has the second highest level of head injuries in all of Scotland, so it's the responsibility of elected representatives and those working closely with agricultural workers, such as NFU Scotland, SRUC and others, to encourage farmers to 'hing yer helmet' on their quad's handle bars so they don't forget to wear it.

"Quad bike safety is a huge issue because accident rates are very high, so farmers need to take action to protect themselves. It's important to remember that a head injury doesn't need to be life threatening to be life changing,” she continued.

"I would like to thank Honda for supplying the quad bike for this week's event, and to organisations including NFUS, SRUC, The Scottish Farmer and Compass Brain Injury Specialists, for their ongoing support in getting this message out there."

NFUS president Andrew McCornick said: “I am delighted to support this important initiative to encourage farmers and crofters to take their own health and safety into their own hands and wear a helmet whenever they are driving a quadbike.

“NFUS has worked closely with Emma Harper MSP over the last year or so to bring this important issue to the fore and I am glad to see this campaign gaining traction," he continued.

“Wearing a helmet is so easy to do but can be the difference between life and death when you are involved in an accident or crash," said Mr McCornick. "There is absolutely no excuse for a farmer or crofter not to wear one while working and we are encouraging all members to join this campaign and ‘hing yer helmet’.

“As farmers we always seem to be rushing around with no time for the little things, but your health and safety is not a little thing. Take the extra few seconds and put on your helmet,” he stressed.