Lowest ever farm workplace deaths recorded

In Agriculture, forestry and fishing the number of fatal injuries in 2019/20 fell to the lowest level on record, with 20 people killed in these sectors, though the sector still accounts for around 20% of all worker deaths.

New data covering the year to March 2020 has been published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). It shows a total of 111 people died in the workplace over the year. This was 38 fewer than the previous year.

The main cause of death was falling from heights, followed by being struck by a moving vehicle as the second most common cause of death.

The HSE said it was difficult to assess what impact the current COVID-19 pandemic has had on the annual number of deaths. Statistics on output of the UK economy show that COVID-19 had a large impact on output of the UK economy in March, but also anecdotal evidence of some small effects in February too. The number of workers killed at work was also lower in both these months compared to recent years though, in statistical terms, numbers are small and subject to fluctuation.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said the figures were welcome, but there was still work to do: “While these figures show an important drop in fatalities they still indicate that there’s significantly more to do. Last year we lost too many of our family, friends and colleagues in the workplace – one fatality is too many.

“For the past few years we have seen many in the industry consciously prioritising health and safety and I hope these figures indicate the start of a downward trend which is underpinned by a culture change in the agriculture sector.

“There will be variations year on year and we need to see longer-term sustained improvement before we can say that farm safety has fundamentally changed.”

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