Farmers need to make health and safety more of a priority to prevent serious accidents and injuries as the industry continues to have the highest rate of work-related deaths.
This was the message from the managing director of a leading UK insurance broker after figures released last week showed that, despite the number of fatalities falling in the space of a year, agriculture continues to have the poorest safety record of all industries across the country.
Responding to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which coincided with the start of the annual Farm Safety Week initiative, Paul Graham, of H&H Insurance Brokers which operates across the North of England, the Scottish Borders and Wales, said more safety protocols needed to be implemented on the farm to prevent farmers losing their lives while carrying out their work.
He said: “The HSE figures show that there were 25 deaths on farms in the UK in the past year compared to 41 the previous year, so you could say there have been some improvements made.
“However, one death is one too many and we need to get the message out there that making health and safety on the farm a priority could make all the difference.
“Due to the nature of their business, farmers are more exposed to the risk of serious injury or death as they work with large machinery and tractors, for example, as well as being exposed to livestock and chemicals too. Farmers work long hours outdoors all year round and are often alone on jobs and there are obvious risks linked with tiredness and fatigue.
“We strongly urge farmers to implement more stringent health and safety policies at work and take the risks around their work seriously to protect themselves, their families and members of the public from having to deal with serious or fatal incidents.”
The figures released by the HSE on Monday (July 18) as part of its Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB Report 2021/22 highlighted that of the 25 deaths in agriculture, three were members of the public – including a nine-year-old child.
The data was released just two days after the tragic death of a three-year-old boy who died following a collision with a tractor on a farm in Bury, Greater Manchester, last Saturday.
Deaths in agriculture accounted for a total of 18 per cent of all workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain, even though the industry only employs one per cent of the working population.
H&H Insurance Brokers, which specialises in farm and rural insurance, offers a support service, H&H Safety, to minimise farming accidents and help farmers create a safer working environment.
Mr Graham said: “As a company, we are keen to help farmers reduce accidents and incidents on the farm, and to make adopting vital health and safety measures in agriculture as easy as possible.
“Farmers should place as much importance on these issues as they would any other aspect of running a farm, and farmers need to know of their obligations to ensure all employees are kept safe and that all machines are safe, well maintained and insured.
“We recommend all farmers develop a risk management system and we can help ensure the burden of setting that up is taken away from farmers who are already incredibly busy.”
H&H Safety provides access to online documentation and telephone support, and offers an annual audit and inspection of agriculture businesses, risk assessments and training programmes.