Farmer Brian Rees has been named a Farm Safety Hero for his work in driving up safety standards. We find out the secrets of his success.
Brian Rees can trace his passion for promoting farm safety back to the start of his career. ‘Since my time in Young Farmers Clubs in the 1970s and 80s, and later the National Farmers’ Union and the Country Land and Business Association, I have always tried to convince the leaders of our industry of the need to improve health and safety in agriculture,’ he says.
The farmer – who runs his own training business, works as a consultant and mentor, and has his own farm in Powys, UK – has been named a Farm Safety Hero by charity Yellow Wellies.
Key to driving up safety standards is getting workers and employers on the same page, he says. ‘Our industry is no different to any other – unless you have the employers and decision-makers on board, other health and safety activities in the workforce can be far less effective.’
Getting hands-on and being able to talk farmer-to-farmer has also proved important, Brian adds. ‘One of my main activities has been skills and health and safety training. This involves going into the workplace and delivering hands-on training involving lift trucks, tractors, safe use of pesticides and general site safety, again getting the managers and supervisors involved as much as possible.’
In 2001, he joined an Agriculture Safety and Health Awareness Day team of 12 who toured rural England, Wales and Scotland. Up to 300 farmers at a time would receive practical advice and guidance on how to make their farms safer. ‘Some winters we had more than 8000 farmers,’ Brian says. ‘A huge advantage of these events was all the instructors were from farming backgrounds, so we were talking farmer-to-farmer.’
Brian has also been awarded the Lantra Wales Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as being a past chair of the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and was a member of the IOSH Rural Industries Group for six years. The farmer has also worked on fatal accident investigations and acted as an expert witness for the GB Health and Safety Executive.
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IOSH magazine would like to extend its warm thanks to the volunteers who took part in the Talking Shop feature in previous issues for their support and insight.