Farm safety, pest management, mental health, dealing with self isolation & who will farm if you can’t?

Keeping the family safe.

Health and safety on farm is always important. It saves lives. But now, in unprecedented times and with the children home from school, we need to be extra vigilant.

  1. Children should not be allowed in the farm work place (and for young children they should enjoy outdoor space in a secure fenced area).
  2. Any access to the work area by children under 16, for example for education, or knowledge, experience, should be planned and fully supervised by an adult not engaged in any work activity
  3. The law requires that employers make sure their risk assessment for young people under the age of 18 takes full account of their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of relevant risks.

Keeping children away from dangers at work isn’t a problem in most professions, but for those who live on farms and have children, extra awareness is paramount.
It can be acceptable for children to watch farm activities when:

  • The task itself is not inherently dangerous
  • The person doing the task is not the same as the person supervising the child
  • The child is kept in a safe place

Children under 16 should not drive, operate, or help to operate:

  • Towed or self-propelled harvesters or processing machines
  • Trailers or feed equipment with conveying, loading, unloading or spreading mechanisms
  • Power-driven machines with cutting, splitting, or crushing mechanisms or power-operated soil-engaging parts
  • Chemical applicators – mounted, trailed or knapsack sprayers
  • Handling equipment such as lift trucks, skid steer loaders or all-terrain vehicles
  • If you carry children or adults on trailers secure seating should be provided along with guard rails
  • You arrange safe mounting and dismounting
  • Children are supervised by a responsible adult

If any machine is left unattended:

  • Remove the keys
  • Lock the cab
  • Leave the controls in neutral
  • Lower foreloaders to the ground
  • Apply the parking brake or chock wheels.

Make sure you exclude children from potentially dangerous areas, such as:

  • Chemical stores
  • Slurry pits and lagoons
  • Reservoirs or sheep dips
  • Grain intake pits and grain bins
  • Stacks of hay or straw

How to deal with self-isolation on farm

Self-isolation may help keep you physically well but mental wellbeing is important and a prolonged period of isolation can have a detrimental effect on mental health.
Here are some ideas to help you deal with self-isolation and help keep you mentally well:
  1. Eat healthily and avoid constant snacking on sugary and salty snacks.
  2. Exercise regularly and wherever possible get outside for some fresh air even if it has to be just the garden. If you can’t get outside things like bird watching from the window or tending to house plants can help to add variety to routines and keep minds active.
  3. Establish and keep to a routine to help get things done and give a sense of achievement having done so.
  4. Avoid looking at a screen all day whether it is for work or pleasure. Too much blue light from screens can be disruptive to sleep and wellbeing.
  5. Stay connected. Just because you may be self-isolating does not mean that you have no contact with the outside world. Use the phone, email, Facetime or Skype to keep in regular contact with friends and family. Regular social contact will be good for you but will also benefit whoever you are talking to as well. Keep in touch with neighbouring farms so that you can have the opportunity to talk with people who can relate to the situations and issues you may be facing.
  6. Limit news intake. The World Health Organisation says: “A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Limit news updates to certain times and use trusted sites such as the
  7. Advice from people who understand farmers and farming is available from the FCN on 03000 111 999.or you can call any of the Manx NFU team.

Pest management

Any recreational shooting isn’t an essential activity, and therefore isn’t permitted under government guidelines.

However, the shooting of certain wild birds for the protection of food crops or livestock under the terms of a General Licence are permissible.

Also, using a contractor to carry out pest management should be acceptable, as the contractor isn’t able to do their job at home. They should abide by social distancing rules.

Click here to view a guide for temporary workers or contingency workers
Who will farm if you can’t?

I cannot stress enough you must have a contingency plan in place to cover the eventuality of self-isolation.
You should carry out farm specific risk assessments for all scenarios as part of your contingency plan.

Have a contingency plan, agree cover with a neighbour, friend, relative, volunteer or paid worker.  If you don’t have any friends or relatives join the specific groups on facebook such as IOM Rural Support and make friends or ask for contact details of paid farm workers.

Make agreements to cover each other’s livestock and now before the need arises would be the best time to appraise one another of how your farm or holding works. Now is not the time to think it will all be ok.  Plan plan plan.

  • DO NOT BE SHY or embarrassed about asking for help to cover your farm/livestock/holding
  • DO NOT WORRY about what other people will think if you ask for help everyone is in the same position
  • EVERYONE should be asking for help with their contingency plan

Plan for the worst case scenario, plan for the entire household being isolated and your first choice for cover is also isolated.

Your Manx NFU are here for you and we will help in any way we can.  For advice, suggestions on who to contact in your area or just to talk please do call;

President                                           Tim Johnston           470107
Vice President                                   Ean Parson              482578
Treasurer                                          Shaun Dean             454771
General Secretary                             Andrew Cooper        490327
Dairy Chairman                                 David Cooil              439546
Meat and Livestock Chairman           Danny Creer            496534
Education and Marketing Chairman  Ray Craine               451412
Northern Branch Chairman               Mike Walker            222850
Central Branch Chairman                 Daniel Creer             438546
Southern Branch Chairman              Murray Cringle          422301

Lesh yeearreeyn share – with best wishes

Andrew Cooper
Manx National Farmers Union

490327 or 662204 (on divert)
Copyright © 2020 Manx NFU, All rights reserved.

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