Workplace accident stats improve for agriculture

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual report on injury and ill health in the agriculture sector for 2019/2020. It shows that the incidence of work-related ill health has declined since the previous year, along with the number of fatalities.

In the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, 13,000 workers were suffering from work-related ill health  (new or long- standing) each year. Around half of these people had musculoskeletal disorders.

There were 20 fatal injuries to workers in 2019/20 This compares to an annual average of 27 fatalities for 2015/16-2019/20. Of these, 28% were people being struck by a moving vehicle; 16% was a fall from height; and 11% were struck by a falling object.

In the past year, 12,000 workers sustained non-fatal injuries at work each year. 22% of these injuries were slips, trips and falls. Numbers have been on a downward trajectory for the past 20 years.

Sarah Newton, HSE Chair said: “Although Great Britain continues to be up there with the safest places in the world to work, these figures highlight the scale of the challenge HSE currently faces in making Britain an even healthier and safer place to work. We must continue to drive home the importance of managing risk and promoting behaviours to ensure employers work right so that workers are able to go home healthy and safe at the end of each day.”

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said it was important to avoid complacency. “Although the non-fatal statistics show progress since the previous year, this should not be taken to mean that a permanent change has occurred as there can be annual variations.

“We have seen this recently with the fatality figures. In July the HSE revealed a record low for farm fatalities, yet in the past few months we have heard far too often the devastating news that we have lost another member of the farming community.

“There has been a renewed focus on safety over the past year or so which is great, and we can’t let this drop off. We need to ensure any improvement we make is backed up with long-term, meaningful change.

“The figures on non-fatal injury and ill health are a really good indication of where we are in relation to our overall goal to reduce farm workplace fatalities to zero – we are making progress, but more needs to be done.”

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