Farm Safety Week, the annual campaign spotlighting industry best practices and top safety tips in the workplace, kicks off this week with the theme of 'farm safety starts with you'. Launched by the Farm Safety Foundation, the agriculture charity are urging farmers to remember the message that "everything is replaceable...you are not."
This message is particularly imperative considering the sobering release of the figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB Report 2022/23, which reveal that agriculture is still statistically the most dangerous industry in the country.
This years' figures show that in the last year alone, there have been 21 recorded farmworker deaths in the UK, while six members of the public were also killed (with a three year old unfortunately among this number), with a total of 27 fatalities.
According to the HSE, the rate of fatalities, which is based on the number of people at work in the sector, has remained high with little change. The worker fatal injury rate is 21-times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.
Older workers, those aged 65 and older, also accounted for a third of all worker fatalities.
The most common causes of death in agriculture have also not changed for many years. This year is no different. The five most common causes of work-related death in agriculture are:
Being crushed or trampled by animals, usually cattle.
Falling from height
Being struck by a moving vehicle
Coming into contact with machinery, during operation or maintenance
Being struck by an object, such as bales or trees
Sue Thompson, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive, said:
“It is disappointing that yet again so many farming families and communities are left devastated when their loved ones are killed or suffer life changing illnesses caused by work.
“The number of fatalities remains stubbornly high and the rate of workplace fatal injury in agriculture still remains the highest of any sector.
“Agriculture is a vital part of the UK economy and it is not acceptable that it continues to fall short when it comes to managing risk in the workplace. It is all the more tragic that we still see children killed by farming activities. It’s time to think differently and not tolerate this any longer. Children must not be in farm workplace.
“We need everyone to play their part to improve the culture and change the poor behaviours we see far too frequently.”
“I encourage everyone to think differently about safety, do things the right way and have the courage to ‘call out’ poor practices whenever they are seen.
“Agriculture will continue to be a priority sector for HSE. We are committed to making workplaces safer and healthier and holding employers to account for their actions, as part of our mission to protect people and places.
“Awareness of the hazards and health risks and legal requirements has never been higher. It’s great that Farm Safety Week brings the issue into focus.
“But it’s regrettable that we’re not yet seeing the widespread changes in attitude towards safety, and the improvements in behaviour that will reduce the numbers of people injured or killed.
“Everyone in agriculture has a role to play in making the changes we all want to see. It is only with the support and commitment of each and every farmer that we will see improvement. Together, we can make farming healthier and safer.”