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Farm safety warning as number of fatal accidents almost doubles in a year

The latest HSE figures reveal 41 people were killed on farms in Great Britain last year.
The latest HSE figures reveal 41 people were killed on farms in Great Britain last year.

Farmers and crofters are being reminded of the dangers posed by their jobs as figures reveal the number of people killed on British farms almost doubled last year.

The reminder coincides with Farm Safety Week – run by farm safety charity the Farm Safety Foundation on July 19-23 – and new figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The figures reveal fatal injuries on farms in Great Britain have almost doubled in the past year from 21 fatalities in 2019/20, to 41 in 2020/21. The deaths included 34 farm workers and seven members of the public.

Five of the deaths were in Scotland and three involved quad bike accidents, one was caused by a farm worker being attacked and killed by a bull, and one was caused by a worker catching fire while carrying out muirburn activities.

The majority of the deaths across Great Britain – 13 – were caused by someone being struck by a moving vehicle, including tractors, telescopic handlers and all-terrain vehicles.

Incidents involving animals accounted for 11 deaths, while six people were killed by contact with machinery, and four died as a result of being struck by an object.

The majority of deaths on British farms were caused by someone being struck by moving machinery.

Other causes of fatal accidents included falls from height, being trapped by something collapsing, asphyxiation by slurry fumes, fire, and a quad bike accident.

“Agriculture is a vital part of our economy and everyone involved is rightly proud of the quality and standard of the food produced,” said HSE acting head of agriculture, Adrian Hodkinson.

“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.”

Prevention

He said the causes of farm incidents were well-known and the things to stop them were usually straightforward – putting on handbrakes, fastening lap belts in cabs, getting ATV training and helmets, putting cows and calves in fields without footpaths, 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,” added Mr Hodkinson.

“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.”

He advised farmers to think a job through and put the right measures in place to make it safer.

“It is not acceptable that agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace,” added Mr Hodkinson.

“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.”

More information about Farm Safety Week is available online at yellowwellies.org

Farmers urged to check machinery is safe ahead of silage season

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