Farmers are being urged to improve safety after figures revealed agriculture continues to have the poorest safety record of all industries in the UK and Ireland.
The plea comes at the start of Farm Safety Week, which is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The safety initiative – run by the Farm Safety Foundation or Yellow Wellies as the charity is commonly known – is encouraging farmers to make their farms safer places to live and work.
Farm Safety Foundation manager Stephanie Berkeley said although the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show an improvement in the past year – the number of deaths on GB farms was 25 in 2021/22 compared to 41 in 2020/21 – the industry cannot rest on its laurels.
The 25 deaths on farms in Scotland, England and Wales involved 22 farm workers and three members of the public, including a nine-year-old child.
The HSE figures also reveal that the 10-year average for workplace deaths in agriculture is 36.
“We must remember that these are not just statistics; behind every fatal notification is a worker, a visitor or a child,” said Ms Berkeley.
“Ten years after our first campaign, we cannot continue to accept that risk-taking is part and parcel of farming – we have to work harder to make it safer.”
Ms Berkeley said awareness of farm safety was at an all-time high with figures from an NFU Mutual survey revealing 66% of UK farmers are aware of Farm Safety Week.
“But the fact remains that, over the past year, 25 people lost their lives on GB farms so awareness may be one thing but the time has come for action,” added Ms Berkeley.
“This is why, a decade on, a focus like Farm Safety Week is still important.”
HSE head of agriculture, Sue Thompson, said the agency was beginning to see safety improvements in some areas of agriculture but the pace of change was slow.
She said: “The rates of workplace injury and ill health in agriculture remain the highest of any major sector.
“Everyone in agriculture has a role to play in making the changes we all want to see. Together we can make farming safer.”
More information about Farm Safety Week, including advice on farm safety, is online at www.yellowwellies.org