Farmers and crofters are being urged to get better at pointing out risks to each other as statistics reveal the cause of the 21 deaths on British farms last year.
A report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to coincide with Farm Safety Week, reveals the causes of fatalities in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in Great Britain in 2019-20.
Of the 21 fatalities, 20 were farm, forestry or fishing workers and one was a member of the public – a four-year-old child who was killed after being run over and crushed by the wheels of a telehandler.
Two of the fatalities were in Scotland. The region with the highest death rate was the north-west of England, with five fatalities.
The Scottish fatalities involved a 25-year-old farm worker and a 59-year-old fish farm worker.
The farm worker was killed after being trapped under a mower unit, which fell from a partially raised position for cleaning and crushed him.
The fish farm worker was killed when he fell from the steps of a barge and was crushed between the barge and a moving boat.
The HSE report, which covers the period from April 1 2019 to March 31 this year, reveals the most common cause of death was being struck by a moving vehicle, accounting for seven of the 21 fatalities. Falling from height and being struck by an object caused four deaths each.
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said although fatalities are down from 39 in 2018-19, the industry had to change its approach to safety.
“We need to start looking at situations with a fresh pair of eyes and we need to help each other by pointing out risks when we see them,” said Mr Roberts.
“As an industry we too often turn a blind eye when we see friends and colleagues undertaking unsafe practices or cutting corners.
“I know I have. But if we’re serious about making long-term improvements to farming’s safety record then we need to recognise that the best thing we can do for each other is to point out when we see unsafe practices, even if they’ve done the job a hundred times before and even if it makes us uncomfortable.”
Stephanie Berkley from the Farm Safety Foundation charity, which runs Farm Safety Week, said the safety of children was especially important as three have been killed on British and Irish farms in the past month.