Die to feed: William Sayers, 12, lost his arm


William Sayers was 12 when he lost his arm in an accident on the family farm in Northern Ireland. Here he tells his story.

It was Easter Monday. We had been putting in slurry all day and everything was going well. It was about half past seven in the evening and I could hear my mother calling us for tea.

We went downstairs and sat around the table and my mom presented us with a lovely salad to eat. After eating, I got up to do one last load. My mom said, “Put on your coat because it’s cold and wet.

It seemed to take forever for the last load of slurry on the tanker to fill up and I figured I was going to investigate to see if I could speed it up. The PTO shaft was fully protected except for a two inch gap where the shaft was not covered.

My coat was not zipped and as I bent over to change the governor it got tangled with the PTO shaft – pulling me and throwing me violently over the PTO shaft on ground.

“Literally dying”

I remember lying there thinking it’s all over – I’m literally dying. After a while I came to my senses and managed to get up and look down. I had nothing on, just my underwear and I could see an arm stretched out on the floor.

I knew it automatically – it’s my arm. I walked home and could see my sister Jane looking out the window. My father ran out and put me in the car to take me to the hospital.

When I left, my Jane called 999 for the ambulance. They sent two of them and we met them on the way to the hospital. They stopped us and asked, “Where’s the arm? And my father said, “It’s not his arm, it’s his life that I want to save.”

They said they needed the arm and sent an ambulance to pick it up. Jane had picked it up from the floor and brought it to the table where I had eaten my salad 10 or 15 minutes earlier.

They said they needed the arm and sent an ambulance to pick it up. Jane had picked it up from the floor and brought it to the table where I had eaten my salad 10 or 15 minutes earlier. She washed her arm under the faucet and took the towel I had dried my two hands on before tea. Then she took all the vegetables out of the freezer and put her arm in the vegetables and wrapped it in the towel, to try and preserve them.

‘Unrecognizable’

I woke up on Wednesday morning. One of the nurses asked, “Do you want to see each other? ” I said that I’ll do it. So they brought a large rectangular four-legged mirror and slid it over the bed so that I could see.

I was unrecognizable. It was me, but not in my memory. I was badly bruised. My arm was missing but my brain was still telling me that I had two arms. I could still open and close my right hand – but it was no longer there.

The speed of recovery was incredible. After two weeks in the hospital, I was back on the farm. I wanted to show that I could still do it. But with one arm, you can’t milk cows.

In the end, I had to find a job where it was easier to manage. I have been with D&M Farm Services for 27 years and sell Massey Ferguson tractors and other machinery.

I am grateful that my life was spared. I live life to the fullest – you never know what’s to come. Being an ambassador to promote farm safety is really important to me.

I am grateful that my life was spared. I live life to the fullest – you never know what’s to come. Being an ambassador to promote farm safety is really important to me.

People think, “This will never happen to me. But he can and he does. I’m one of the lucky ones because a lot of people don’t get a second chance.

It’s worth telling my story if it keeps someone else from losing an arm, a leg, or a finger – or maybe their life.

Work safely with agricultural machinery

Accidents are frequent. When personnel are employed, ensure that these safety measures are implemented:

  • Risk awareness training – talk about safe work practices and send reminders
  • Make sure the PTO shafts are fully closed with no gaps in the guard
  • Minimize contact with the PTO and avoid working in this area
  • Never bend over or touch a running PTO
  • Avoid loose clothing
  • Tie hair back and don’t wear jewelry that might catch on
  • Avoid working alone – make sure someone is nearby or knows what you are doing
  • Make sure you have a means of communication and a signal. If there is no signal, have another way to communicate. Don’t take a bad signal as an excuse
  • Have an emergency procedure in place. This should include how to deal with the injury with first aid, as well as contact details for assistance and emergency services.

Source: Security Revolution

Die to feed you

Die to feed you logoAbout the campaign

Agriculture has the highest number of workplace fatalities of any occupation. Farmers Weekly is committed to using its voice, influence and reach to reduce the rate of accidents in agriculture.

Find out how you can help us change the safety record of agriculture at fwi.co.uk/mourir-pour-vous-cimenter

Partner’s Message

Security revolt

The Safety Revolution team is delighted to work with Farmers Weekly reduce agricultural deaths and show how we can work together to create safer farms.

Building strong and positive safety cultures provides happy and safe teams, fewer incidents and improved productivity. We look forward to exploring individual case studies and highlighting



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