‘Life can change in a second’: wheelchair racer's message for Farm Safety Week

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A World Champion wheelchair racer has urged people to stop and think for Farm Safety Week, as figures released today show that working in farming is 21 times more deadly than any other industry.

Samantha Kinghorn this week celebrated an incredible four-medal haul at the Para Athletics World Championships in Paris. The 27-year-old Scot set a new championship record time in what is her third career world title.

In a video made by the Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies), she tells us how this dream career happened only after her life was derailed following a horrific incident on her family farm aged 13.

Samantha Kingthorn, who was injured in a farming accident, says we should all be aware and alive to the risks and opportunities around us. Photograph:

“I still remember the day like it was yesterday,” she says, recalling how she had gone outside to help her father and feed the animals. “As I was coming back up the road my dad was driving a forklift and then for some reason still to this day I have no idea why I… jumped onto part of the forklift.”

Her father had had no idea his daughter was there and she suffered serious spinal injuries. 

She was inspired to take up sport soon after, determined that ‘life’s too long’ to spend doing something you don’t enjoy.

For Farm Safety Week, she urges everyone to be aware and alive to the risks and opportunities around us.

“Life can literally change in a Split Second, we need to stop just thinking I'll be fine because the one day is not fine it'll be the one day you wish you'd done something about it.”

Her message comes as HSE’s latest statistics show the fatality rate in farming is 21-times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.

Being struck by a moving vehicle is still one of the five most common causes of work-related death.

Sue Thompson, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive, said: “The number of fatalities remains stubbornly high and the rate of workplace fatal injury in agriculture still remains the highest of any sector.

“Agriculture is a vital part of the UK economy and it is not acceptable that it continues to fall short when it comes to managing risk in the workplace. It is all the more tragic that we still see children killed by farming activities.” She added that it’s time to think ‘differently’ and that farms are “workplaces”: “Children must not be in the farm workplace.”

Farm Safety Week runs from 17 to 21 July. More information here

HSE statistics for fatal injuries in agriculture 2022/23 here


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