A Scottish dairy farmer has given an account of a workplace accident to act as a warning to fellow farmers.
Matthew Brown, who milks 90 cows at Whitecrags, Glassford, Strathaven, shared his story during the recent Farm Safety Week.
He was raised up in an ordinary loader bucket to repair storm damage to a farm roof when he was hit by a purlin which caused him to fall 7ft to the concrete below, leaving him with two fractured vertebrae and unable to work for six months.
The damage was lasting as he has no use of two of his arm muscles and is still receiving physiotherapy for his shoulder pain more than two years after the accident.
Mr Brown said he would normally have used a loader bucket, adapted to ensure safe working at heights, but he had been in a hurry.
“I found myself sitting against the wall with my son watching on. I started to assess what I could and couldn’t move. I had shooting pain down my back and could move my left side, but could barely move my right arm. Not trying to get up or moving probably saved further damage,” he said.
“A CT scan revealed that I’d fractured the C5 and C6 vertebrae. That’s when panic set in. I got strapped to a bed on the Friday afternoon and had to lie still until the Monday.”
Mr Brown had an MRI scan then an operation to fuse the vertebrae together, and bone marrow was taken from his hip.
“One of the surgeons told me I was lucky to be alive and also not to be paralysed. I was off work for around six months, and couldn’t drive for three as I had been fitted with a neck brace,” he said.
“The impact of an accident on those around you can sometimes be underestimated. My son was there when the accident happened. Unbeknown to me he struggled to sleep afterwards and it hit him hard.”
Reflecting on it all, Mr Brown said: “The annoying thing is that I have a specific bucket, that has been modified to make working at height safer, but I didn’t use it on this occasion. Since the accident if I’m working at heights I use a snap safety line and carry out a risk assessment.”