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Paralysed farmer leads new safety campaign
A FARMER who was paralysed by a falling bale of hay is fronting a campaign to improve safety on farms.
Robert Field, from Padiham, was paralysed at 21 while stacking silage bales on a farm in Hapton with a workmate in 2007.
The bale grab on the vehicle he was using cracked as it struggled to put in place the top bale on a stack.
As Robert took a look at the problem he was hit by a one-ton bale from six metres high.
It broke his back, fractured his jaw and severed a main artery in his leg.
Doctors were forced to amputate his leg above the knee and he was left permanently paralysed from the waist down.
Robert, 26, who has recently set up a plant hire firm, is fronting a campaign by the HSE to warn people of the dangers during the hay-making season.
Neither he nor his colleagues had been trained in stacking bales and there had been no planning of the job.
Robert has been able to work again, but he and his mother have had to employ extra staff to make up their farm’s workforce and have spent £3,000 to adapt Robert’s JCB Loadall.
In total 11 workers have died in baling incidents in Great Britain over the past five years, including former Wycoller farmer Simon Whittaker 40, who was killed at a farm in Devon when a heavy bale of silage slipped from a JCB as he was trying to cut it open.
Robert, whose story is available to watch on the HSE website, said: “I’m very cautious now in every-thing I do. I didn’t think a bale would fall on me like it did. People who work on farms should make a promise to them-selves and their families to come home safe at the end of the day. I very nearly didn’t.
“Farms are very dangerous places, not just because of the bales of hay but all the equipment that is used. I know of a lot of people who have been injured on farms, some seriously.
“People need to be aware of these dangers and how accidents like this can change your life.”
Graeme Walker, HSE’s Head of Food and Agriculture, said: “Baling doesn’t have to be a dangerous activity. “Robert is an inspiration, but his story should also serve as a stark warning to others. New HSE guidance on safe baling is now available and I urge farm workers to get familiar with it.”
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