Farmers are being told to “change their attitude” towards safety as Britain’s workplace regulator prepares for a wave of inspections in the coming months.
Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit farms across England, Scotland and Wales as part of a push to change the culture in the industry and check for compliance with long standing legal requirements.
People on farms are 21 times more likely to be killed in a workplace accident than other sectors.
In total, there have been 161 deaths on Britain’s farms over the last five years – an average of 26 people each year. This includes members of the public and children.
The visits, from November to next April, will focus on the main causes of death in farming, including operating and maintaining vehicles and falls from height.
They will also look at risks to members of the public, as well as child safety on the farm.
HSE plans to carry out 440 visits during the campaign.
One of the HSE inspectors helping organise and support the visits is Kathy Gostick, who offered the following advice to farmers: “We will not only be checking farmers’ knowledge of risk but also making sure they understand their responsibility to themselves and others. We will look at actions they have taken to control these risks and comply with the law.”
Although, the number of deaths in the agricultural sector has fallen by around half since the early 1980s, the rate of fatalities, which is based on the number of people at work in the sector, has remained stubbornly high, much higher than comparable industries.
“This means changing attitudes towards safety – it is the only way we will reduce the numbers of people being injured or killed,” said Gostick. “These upcoming inspections will help drive home the message that the only way we can bring down the numbers being injured or killed is if we change behaviour.”