Farm Family Key Skills
Noreen McPeake is from a farming background in Swatragh, Co. L/Derry. She is one of over 500 people who have attended a Farm Family Key Skills Health and Safety workshop. Managed by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), these workshops are funded through the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 with support from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The workshops aim to raise awareness of farm safety amongst farmers, farm family members and farm employees.
From a young age Noreen McPeake has been passionate about agriculture, helping on the family farm and attending her local livestock mart in Swatragh. This hobby then became her job as she started working in the N.C.C.E mart on Saturdays while still at school. After school she took up farming as a full-time career and worked for 7 years on a large sheep farm in Dungiven. When the opportunity arose for full time employment within N.C.C.E she applied for and was successful in securing the job. Her main focus now is on the training centre at the Mart.
It is through the training centre that she learned of the farm safety workshops. She said that as agriculture is the most dangerous occupation in the UK she was immediately interested in the training and felt it would be beneficial to the community.
Not only has she attended the course herself, but she has also organised numerous well attended sessions at N.C.C.E.
The workshops are part of the Farm Family Key Skills Programme and are open to farmers, farm family members and farm employees. They cover the four main dangers associated with working on a farm, Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment and seeks raise awareness of farm safety.
Each workshop offers a mix of real life stories, up to date information and a practical understanding of on farm risks, how to identify them and how to manage them. Workshops also introduce farmers to the new construction requirements and raise awareness of the ‘Making it Safer’ tool, a key requirement for the new Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS).
The causes of injuries and fatalities on farm have largely remained the same over the years. Too often accidents happening on the farm are avoidable. These workshops seek to support the farming community in raising awareness, encouraging improvements and adoption of safer practices.
Noreen found the session very informative and the experiences people shared brought home the dangers of farming. Reflecting on the workshops, she said “The average age of the farmer in the UK is 59 and most farmers work alone in isolated farms with machinery and animals. If an accident occurred whilst working alone and they were not expected home until evening they could be left untreated for hours. Therefore, if the session can make one person change one dangerous habit then it is worthwhile.”
Noreen comments, “From chatting to local farmers who have already attended, the overall response has been positive, the videos shown were of local, ordinary men and I think this helped get the message across that anyone can become a victim. I would definitely recommend that everyone involved in the family farm attends this information evening, especially females. If the wives/mothers are more involved they can play a big part in helping change their family’s attitude towards safety. If we can spread awareness and break people’s habits this could prevent serious accidents or even fatalities.”