Doing activities around the farm without proper PPE can have devastating long-term impacts on our vision, as young farmer, Ryan Taggart, is stressing as part of the 2022 Farm Safety Week campaign.
In a video, which Yellow Wellies has shared across its platforms, he opens up about how “a simple accident that can happen to anyone has so drastically changed my life”.
The day may have started like most others for the young farmer, but what happened later that afternoon was far from the norm.
As he explains: “I got the tractor and started sub-soiling. I started the day around 7:30 am, and it got to around 3:30 pm.”
“The worn metal, the shoe, I thought it needed changing, so I got out of the tractor and took the roll pin out.”
“I was going to change it, but the shoe was a bit stiff. I lifted the hammer, thinking nothing of it, and gave it a hit. Next thing, I knew, a bit of metal fragment came off the shoe and went straight into my eye.”
The mental punctured the first couple of layers of his eye, and it bounced off his retina, scarring it.
He said that, in a sense, he is lucky that it did not go further through his retina or else, as he explains, “I would have had to have my eye taken out”.
The accident has impacted his eyesight drastically, and he can no longer see out of his right eye. However, he says, in a way, his brain still thinks he has sight in both eyes.
As a result, his depth perception has “completely been thrown off”.
When he returned to work following the accident, it was “quite difficult”, as he admits.
“It was quite hard to grasp in my head, like you now have one eye, and you have to see the world from a different perspective.”
“What happened to me, I definitely think, was a case of wrong time, wrong place.”
“If I were an inch taller, or an inch shorter or was stooped over a different way, it would have hit me in the cheek, the forehead, or it could have flown right past me.”
“I would not have even thought anything of it. But, the fact it hit me in my eye, that is when I know I had done something wrong.”
He says the accident has made him more aware of what he needs to do whenever he works and the risks he takes.
The young farmer says he has “definitely slowed down” the way he works – and now, if he comes up against something that could put him in danger, he takes a step back and thinks of ways to enhance safety.
Now, he ensures he always has appropriate PPE – including safety goggles – when carrying out activities, especially when using tractors and farm machinery.
“Looking back, I would say, you know, everyone gets on with the job and the task at hand. You do it necessarily without really thinking about it.”
“I think that is bad in the sense of everyone has kind of accepted that accidents happen in agriculture. I think really; we should do more to prevent accidents from happening and working together to prevent them.”
Firstly, if someone thinks that farm safety does not apply to them, they are completely wrong, he says.
“I would say, generally in agriculture, there is always that perception that everything needs to be done as fast as possible.”
“But, I think people need to remember that at the end of the day, if something does happen to you, it impacts you for a lifetime, and you can only get lucky so many times.”
“Luck is always going to catch up with you, and that does impact you for the rest of your life.”
“I would never have imagined myself losing sight in one eye and sitting here telling my story,” he adds.
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