Farming has the poorest safety record of any industry, new figures have revealed, with almost 20 times higher the rate than the average across all industries in Britain.
The picture is similar in Northern Ireland where farming accounted for 5 of the 13 workplace fatalities in 2020/2021 representing 38% (HSENI) and, in the Republic of Ireland, farming accounts for 5% of the workforce but an alarming 40% of all workplace fatal incidents.
This year’s Farm Safety Week campaign is running this week and, as in previous years, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have shared their annual Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB report 2020/21 which, sadly, reveals that, over the past year almost twice as many people were killed on farms in Great Britain compared to the previous year.
A total of 41 people in England, Scotland and Wales were killed in agriculture including 34 farm workers and seven members of the public. In addition, two children have been killed by farming this year.
“Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and everyone involved is rightly proud of the quality and standard of the food produced.” said Adrian Hodkinson, Acting Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive. “However, this appears to come at a significant cost to many farmers and workers in terms of serious injury, lifelong ill health and in some cases death.
“The causes of farm incidents are well known and the things to stop them are usually straightforward: putting on handbrakes; fastening lap belts in cabs; getting ATV training and helmets; stopping things before trying to fix or unblock them and so on”.
“When we investigate life-changing farm workplace incidents we find, time and time again, that risks are not being removed or managed. It is far too common for people to accept risk is an inevitable part of the job – this isn’t the case, the guidance is easily available to manage the risks and prevent injury” His advice: “Think a job through and then put the right measures in place to make safer. ”
“It is not acceptable that agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace. We need everyone to play their part to change their own behaviours, do things the right way and ‘call out’ poor practices whenever they are seen.
“On a more positive note,” Adrian added: “I’m really encouraged that there now some very high-profile advocates for improvement who see the real benefits for attracting and retaining people and reducing costs. It’s fantastic to see a real focus on maintenance of machinery and trailers, that many ATV users are getting trained and wearing helmets.”