Whilst Scotland’s farmers and crofters are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.

Scotland’s farm safety record continues to be poor. Last year alone there were 33 deaths in the agricultural industry in Great Britain, with five in Scotland and many more accidents caused serious and life changing injuries.

The Farm Safety Foundation was established by rural insurer NFU Mutual as an independent charity and, since 2015, has developed and delivered a unique farm safety outreach programme to over 5000 agriculture students in 41 different land-based colleges and universities throughout the UK. Most recently, the team delivered this training to agriculture students at SRUC's Oatridge Campus.

Working with health and safety experts Risk Management Services and the lecturers at SRUC to tailor their unique course to meet students’ needs, the foundation recreated four 'CSI' style farm accident scenes.

Small groups of students spent approximately 15 minutes at each scenario, which were set up at locations on the colleges’ working farm to provide a realistic setting. This approach enabled 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.

Regional manager for NFU Mutual in Scotland, Martin Malone, said: “We insure most farmers in Scotland and we're determined to do all we can to reduce the toll of deaths and serious injuries resulting from farm accidents.

“It’s great to see that SRUC have signed up to receive this unique and innovative Lantra accredited course. This educational outreach programme demonstrates the need to put safety first at all times when working on a farm or croft – and the risks of becoming complacent when working with large machinery and livestock on a daily basis.

“However, it is 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 proud to help the Farm Safety Foundation achieve their goals while encouraging all those working within the industry to make safety a priority through our ongoing membership of the Farm Safety Partnership Scotland.

Graeme Ligertwood, health and safety chair of SRUC’s education division, added: “We are pleased to be working with the Farm Safety Foundation to provide practical, hard-hitting training that instils a deep understanding of the need to work safely which will stay with students through their careers. While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can now do so much has the potential to make people complacent. Our students represent the future workforce of Scottish agriculture and it is important that they appreciate and understand the risks before entering employment.”