Why should farmers book on training courses?

We’ve noticed that farmers tend to book more training courses and assessments when the industry faces threats of fines or prosecutions. A few years ago, we saw it with the transport of animals and pesticides. This year, demand for telehandler training has shot up.

It raises the question as to whether many farmers would send staff on training courses, or attend themselves, if there was no legal requirement to do so.

Why volunteer for training?

Injuries and fatalities

Not many people are hit by lightning. It’s the law of averages. The odds are that you won’t be involved in a work-related accident — and neither will your family or employees. It will (probably) happen to someone else.

However, what’s pretty clear is that agriculture is a high risk sector. Just over one in a hundred workers (employees and the self-employed) work in UK agriculture, but it accounts for about one in five fatal injuries to workers. In the last ten years, almost one person a week has been killed as a direct result of agricultural work. Many more have been seriously injured or made ill by their work.

The personal costs of injury and ill health can be devastating. Life is never the same again for family members left behind after a work-related death, or for those looking after someone with a long-term illness or serious injury caused by their work.

Sometimes it is just down to bad luck. But what if the accident was due to a health and safety breach? Fines can follow. In 2019, a Devon farmer was fined £33,000 after a nine year old boy suffered a serious leg injury in an ATV accident.

Yes, bad luck can happen — but one way to reduce the likelihood of fines or accidents is to send staff on courses to learn how to handle kit safely. Training doesn’t do away with the chance of accidents, but having the right certificates can help you to show that you were not guilty of negligence.

Improving productivity

Businesses across the world invest huge sums in training. One of the main reasons is to increase productivity.

However, we often hear that the UK faces a productivity problem. On average, UK workers produce less per hour than German, French and American workers. It’s not just about working hard. It’s about working smart.

You can see a video on this at the Acas website . Acas — the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service — provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.

McKinsey, an international firm of management consultants, say that one the main causes of poor labour productivity is low exposure to best practice. There may be other businesses out there, in your industry, doing things a different way, a way that can produce better results.

How can you find out whether there’s a better way?

Attending training courses is one strategy. It’s not just the person providing the training you can learn from. It’s also about exchanging ideas with other people on the course. And those people – the ones who have taken the time out to attend training — are probably more likely than most to have looked at new ideas.

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