Farms remain most dangerous workplaces and ‘must improve’

Ten years after the launch of the first Farm Safety Week, farming continues to have the worst workplace safety record in the UK and Ireland.

By Mark Rainey
Monday, 18th July 2022, 12:01 am

In Northern Ireland during 2021/2022, farming accounted for 6 of the 18 (33%) deaths investigated by the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI).

According to new figures published by the Farm Safety Foundation (FSF), the charity behind Farm Safety Week, there were 25 farm death is Great Britain – down from 41 the previous year.

In the Republic of Ireland, nine people died in farm accidents in 2020/2021 compared to 20 the previous year.

Farms remain the most dangerous workplaces in the UK and Ireland

Of the 25 people killed in GB in the past year, 22 were farm workers and three were members of the public.

The FSF said that an industry that still has between one and two children being killed through its activities each year “simply must improve”.

In response to the latest figures, the charity has posed the question: “Farming has changed so much over the past decade so why hasn’t its safety record?”

It said: “This week, the Farm Safety Foundation will highlight some of the key issues facing the farming community, spotlight the work being done to drive a change in attitudes and behaviours and introduce ten inspirational farm safety heroes who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to reduce the injury risk for farmers and farming families”.

Stephanie Berkeley, FSF manager, said: “Despite an encouraging improvement in the HSE figures over the past year, these are very sobering statistics.

“We must remember that these are not just statistics – behind every fatal notification is a worker, a visitor or a child. We cannot become immune to the impact that each and every death has on farming families and communities across the UK and Ireland.

“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 added: “Awareness of farm safety is at an all-time high with 66% of farmers in the UK (80% of under 40s) aware of Farm Safety Week according to NFU Mutual’s Voice of the Farmer 2022 survey – 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.”

The figures have contained in the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB Report 2021/22.

Ms Berkeley went on to say: “Farming is an industry where people do not retire at 65 so, with the oldest farm worker killed over the past year being 85 years of age, we need to look after our older workers so they can continue to support the farm business and carry out tasks are appropriate for their mobility, agility and health conditions.

“But the truth is, farmers of ALL ages need to start challenging and changing their attitudes so we can make our farms safer places to work and to live.”

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