THE Health and Safety Executive last week highlighted the importance of technology in the farming industry, as part of Farm Safety Week.
A spokesperson said: “Education is the key to driving good behaviours and giant strides have been made in technology for safe computer-based agricultural training which contributes to the farm safety message.
“In January 2020, the Farm Safety Foundation, or Yellow Wellies as they are also known, introduced a virtual reality-based session to their education programme to address these concerns and challenge the assumption that health and safety training is boring and repetitive.
“The ability to experience any training in 360 degrees is invaluable and memorable and to deliver training that may actually save lives and limbs in the future makes it even more important. Imagine future farmers viewing a working farm and all its risks from all angles without leaving the classroom. This is what the Farm Safety Foundation developed and are delivering to students in 30 land-based colleges and universities throughout the UK.”
Stephanie Berkeley, from the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “We are all committed to improving this dismal safety record in the farming industry, where sharing pledges online and talking about it is not enough anymore.
“We need action, we need education and we need to engage farmers at their level. Farmers do not want to be preached to. They are busy professionals so we need to really think about how we can engage them so the time and attention they give us will create impact, drive a change and save lives.
“This new virtual training gives the farming community an opportunity to learn the farm safety skills needed whilst learning in a safe environment.”
Also, in February this year, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA officially launched Northern Ireland’s first ever tractor driving simulators at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus. The two new simulators aim to improve safety both on and off the road, as well as enhance skills and build confidence in a real, working environment.
George Moffett, Head of Agriculture Education at CAFRE, said: “The investment in tractor simulator technology is an exciting enhancement to the curriculum, enabling learners to develop confidence and competence in a range of machinery operations.”
The simulators provide learners, particularly those with limited prior experience, with the opportunity to operate tractors, material handlers and other agricultural machinery in a simulated, controlled and safe environment. Learners can receive reports on their driving techniques and when the two simulators are used in tandem, can practice many of the machinery operations on farms.
n Further information on the education and training courses available at CAFRE can be found at www.cafre.ac.uk