I had a close memory last week. You guys know. After a few minutes, you are good for nothing, just after realizing that, only for the grace of God, you were dead.
t was a simple matter. We were doing some work on a shed. Before we could block out the space, an interior window about 4.5 meters above the ground required its large heavy metal frame.
After hammering away at the frame for a few minutes, I realized that the frame was held in place by some threaded bars that were drilled into the surrounding wall. I already cut these fixings flush with the frame, but the butts of the bars embedded in the wall were still holding holes in the frame.
So I next resorted to a punch and hammer to hammer the butts into the wall and free the frame.
My aim with a lump-hammer is pretty dull at the best of times, so I was leaning out the window to get a good angle on the punch.
What I didn’t do was that when the last butt was pushed in, the frame was ready to collapse. Its all 200 kg. It happened in the blink of an eye. A second I was hitting the punch, after that the frame was on the ground.
In that second part it hit my head heavily. My crown was at the right angle so as to accommodate the heavy weight instead of properly holding the back of my head in the way.
Now a few days later, I have a very tender lump on the top of my head, well scratched, and it only hurts when I raise my eyebrows a lot.
Which happens every time I have a little flashback.
“Why weren’t you wearing a helmet?” When I told him that evening, I asked for my wife.
I accidentally expected a little sympathy. But he had none of it.
“And why didn’t you realize the frame was about to go?” He followed. “And what were you thinking leaning out the window when you could have come at it from the other side?”
Those were all legitimate questions, and I didn’t have the answers.
If it was one of the guys working for me, I would be asking the same question. Haven’t I spent thousands on hard-hats, harnesses, safety training, hoist hire over the years?
Yet I was setting a terrible example, and was lucky not to pay the final price.
There are always many reasons to ignore the safe option. there’s no time. The helmet will get in the way. It keeps falling. The harness is uncomfortable and troublesome. And so on.
But if someone dies in your farm this week, who will make that excuse?
It was an occasional reminder that we need to plan extra time for any task so that we can take safety considerations into account.
Usually, the opposite is the case when a project is underway. Everyone is flat, working long days, making the most of dry conditions, extra daylight, and whatever extra help the job has at hand.
But there are many dangers lurking in every corner of a farm, and we cannot afford to slander about them.
When there is something extra in the mix such as silage or crop or construction, the chances of an accident increase.
Then neglecting the safety measures and tools that are often at hand, as I did, is simply unforgivable.
Now I’m ready to sort out that add-on for an insurance policy to cover the rest of the building work. The last few days have convinced me that this is a small price to pay in the bigger scheme of things.
Darragh McCullough runs a mixed farming venture in Meath, elmgrovefarm.ie