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Health and Safety during TB Testing



Whilst flicking through the farming press in an attempt to put off having to write this blog post, I came across some unsettling recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, revealing farming to be the ‘Most dangerous profession in the UK’. 27 fatalities at work were reported in 2016/2017, with the number of serious or life-changing injuries much higher.

I’m also writing this on #farmsafetyweek so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and have a look at some ways we could reduce the frequencies of injuries during TB testing.

Whatever your farming system, animals are unpredictable and handling livestock is inherently dangerous. With the added stress and pressure of the TB test on both animals and farm staff, accidents and injuries are all too common.

A few simple tips to try and keep things running smoothly include:

Ensure all staff are familiar with the handling system and the planned movement of stock. This is particularly important for temporary staff who may be less experienced. A five-minute briefing before the test gets underway can really help in ensuring things run as smoothly as possible.

Ensure all handling equipment is working correctly, greased appropriately and all gates etc. are adequately secured.

If cattle are unused to the handling system, where possible quietly running them through a few days prior to the test can ease pressure on test day.

Ensure all cattle walkways are as clean as possible. Metal floors and exits from crushes can become particularly slippery. Have some straw/sand etc. available to put down if required.

Where possible, try not to leave fractious or upset animals until last, or allow them to become isolated. It may be safer to turn two or three already tested animals back in with an upset animal to calm it down.

Try to keep up to date with dehorning.

Take breaks as appropriate so staff remain alert and so stress is kept as low as possible.

Overall, if you have any concerns regarding safety during your test, please speak to your vet and we will do what we can to help resolve the issue.

If any of you have any safety tips for TB testing, send them in! We’d love to hear from you!

Alice Johnson