A WOMAN whose 19-year-old son was killed by a farm trailer with faulty brakes is to speak at a farm safety webinar this coming Monday, Sept 28.

Jane Gurney lost her son, Harry, when he was working as a seasonal farm worker, transporting grain by tractor for the 2014 harvest. At the court case following the tractor crash caused by the trailer, the trailer’s brakes were judged to be ineffective. The company involved was found guilty of having a poorly maintained trailer.

In the two years following the court case, Ms Gurney, who farms on the Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire border, has been the driving force behind a trailer safety campaign that was won widespread support from farmers, tractor manufacturers, health and safety experts and the police.

Her ‘Tilly Your Trailer’ campaign – named after Harry’s Beagle dog, Tilly – established an18-point inspection procedure, certificate and ‘Head to Tow’ App to ensure trailers are properly maintained and serviced.

She now does a lot of work with the Farm Safety Partnership towards its pledge to reduce the number of farming fatalities by at least 50% by the summer of 2023, and described the IOSH webinar as another key opportunity to raise the profile of farm safety in general and, in particular, to empower the next generation of farm workers to keep themselves safe.

“My campaign is all about helping and encouraging those working in agriculture to face up to their responsibilities on transport and farm safety and make sure that the vehicles and equipment they use are checked continuously, not just once a year,” she said. “We have to do everything we can to help all those working on farms to keep themselves – and others – safe.”

Ms Gurney was contacted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health about doing a webinar after Ministers for Agriculture from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland came together to appeal to all farmers and all those involved in agriculture to play their part and reduce the ongoing high rate of fatal farm accidents.

In their joint statement, the Ministers referred to a 'very concerning' surge in the number of fatal farm incidents, adding that 'the majority of these accidents have occurred during the Covid-19 restrictions and in particular it is sad to see the number of children and older people that have died on our farms in recent weeks'.

While current farm fatality figures for Scotland dropped from 13 to two during 2019/20, at the same time as England and Wales recorded 19 deaths – giving the lowest Great Britain figure for five years – these deaths are still too many, and also all preventable, showing more work still needs to be done.

Chair of the Northern Ireland Branch of IOSH Emma Gilmore, said: “We hope this webinar collaboration will help in this. When the opportunity arose for us to join up with the IOSH Scotland Branch, IOSH Ireland Rural Industries Sector, and the IOSH Rural Industries Group, we were delighted to have the chance. We could also see that listening to a heartfelt and tragic story, such as Jane Gurney’s, can really bring home a message to our audience.”

IOSH Scotland chair, Stan Brown said: “We have a number of members in Scotland who work in agriculture. They are very active and liaise regularly with their counterparts in other parts of the UK. Farmers are now in one of their busiest times of the year with the harvesting of crops, so this webinar comes at an opportune time to highlight and emphasise the importance of health, safety and wellbeing.”

Anyone wishing to attend the free webinar should first register at https://iosh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gbRsoQsOSsaCg0BRolnKoQ