Brain injury in the farming community

December 10, 2019

Posted by: Suzanne Trask


Agriculture is Britain’s deadliest industry.  Farmer’s Weekly explain that ‘one in five workplace fatalities occur on farms’.  Something as simple as a careless fall could result in a serious brain injury with lifelong consequences.

Farmers have a lot to deal with physically and mentally, whether they are running a livestock or arable farm.  Putting safety measures in place to protect from serious injury is paramount.

How does a brain injury occur?

A brain injury occurs either by an external force such as a blow to the head (known as traumatic brain injury) or it can occur within the brain at the cellular level.  When working on a farm there are many types of equipment and tasks that can cause such an injury.  According to the Health and Safety Executive Annual Report and Accounts 2018/19 (HSE), the agriculture sector ‘has the highest rate of work-related death in any industry’.

Almost one person a week is killed as a direct result of agricultural work and many more are seriously injured or made ill by their work – HSE.  This statistic isn’t so difficult to believe as there are many ways an agricultural worker could injure themselves.  Some injuries may be accidental and others could be avoided with training or protective equipment. 

How to prevent it?

Most strenuous activities require us to take preventative measures to ensure we are doing our best to protect our bodies from harm.  Builders wear helmets, American football players wear specialised equipment and practice heads-up tackling to avoid concussions and dancers stretch their limbs before practicing.

As a farmer, there is a list of things you can do to prevent a brain injury as stated by Successful Farming online such as:

  • Use personal protective equipment including head protection when needed
  • Avoid working on equipment with loose parts or tools directly above your head
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in low-light conditions, paying special attention to what’s beside and above you
  • Maintain three points of contact (one hand/two feet, or two hands/one foot) when climbing or getting in and out of equipment
  • Use proper handling techniques around aggressive or defensive livestock

What to do if you or a loved one suffer a brain injury?

Medical advice and treatment should be sought straight away.  Medical staff will then take the necessary steps to ensure you are diagnosed correctly and are treated.  They will determine how stable your condition is, perform a CT and other scans and will keep you in the hospital until it is decided that it is appropriate for you to leave.  You may then need a period of rehabilitation treatment before you are discharged.  Afterwards, you may need some extra help at home, and to attend appointments with therapists.  Every brain injury is different and it is important that you and your family understand your new needs.

The Headway website provides a huge range of useful information, and has a helpline for those who have a suffered a brain injury, their family members and carers.

Suzanne Trask is head of the Adult Brain Injury team and a partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Suzanne free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4834 or at suzannetrask@boltburdonkemp.co.uk.  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Adult Brain Injury team will contact you.  Find out more about the Adult Brain Injury Team.

Posted by: Suzanne Trask

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