Published onJuly 19 2021
This week marks the ninth Farm Safety Week (19-23 July), organised by leading farming charity the Farm Safety Foundation, which aims to raise awareness of, and in turn reduce, incidents happening across UK and Ireland's farms.
To coincide with the awareness campaign, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has shared their annual Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB report 2020/2 - detailing a bleak rise in the sector.
The agriculture industry continues to have the worst rate of fatal injuries across all of the major industrial sectors, which is around 20 times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.
Figures from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021 show 41 people were killed in agriculture related activities, almost double the number of deaths in the previous year, (which was 23).
While numbers fluctuate each year, the five most common causes of fatalities over the past five years remain the same - being struck by moving vehicles, killed by an animal, struck by an object, falling from height and contact with moving machinery.
Transport-related incidents, such as overturning vehicles or being struck by moving vehicles were responsible for more deaths than any other cause.
The agency also reports that older workers are most at risk, with more than half of workers killed aged 60 years or older. When comparing older and younger age groups, the fatal injury rate is more than four times higher for the 65s and over, compared to the 16-24 age group. Unfortunately, the youngest person killed was a two-year-old child who died after being overcome by slurry fumes.
Acting head of agriculture at HSE Adrian Hodkinson said: “Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and everyone involved is rightly proud of the quality and standard of the food produced.
“It is not acceptable that agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace. We need everyone to play their part to improve their behaviour, do things the right way and ‘call out’ poor practices whenever they are seen.
“Agriculture will continue to be a priority sector for HSE, which will be achieved through the delivery of HSE’s sector plan for tackling the high rates of injury and ill health.”
He added: “It is disappointing to be highlighting another high annual fatality rate in the industry when the causes are well known and the precautions to avoid injury are straightforward.
“There are simple safety measures people should follow to reduce injury like remembering to put on handbrakes, fasten lap belts in cabs, make sure anyone operating a quad bike wears a helmet and receives sufficient training, don’t put cows and calves in fields with public footpaths; and make sure to switch off the power to vehicles or machinery before attempting to carry out repairs.”
For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.