FARMERS and agricultural workers are being urged to change their attitudes towards health and safety as the rate of fatalities on farms continues to be the highest of any sector.
H&H Insurance Brokers (HHIB), which specialises in rural and business insurance, is urging those who work on farms, or members of the public who may walk on public footpaths crossing farmland, to be more cautious in agricultural settings after the recent publication of figures showed the fatality rate is higher than any other sector.
The annual Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain’ report revealed that, in the 12-month period up to March 31, 2023, 27 people were killed as a result of farming and other agriculture-related activities, including a three-year-old child.
The figures follow data released from the HSE for 2022 in its Agriculture, forestry and fishing statistics in Great Britain report which showed that 11,000 workers sustain non-fatal injuries each year.
HHIB Account Executive Corinne Cooper is issuing a plea for farmers and agricultural workers to change their way of thinking while out on the farm to prevent such high levels of fatalities and serious injuries.
She said: “Due to the nature of the work, farming has always been regarded as a sector involving high risks, but there are certainly areas that can be improved to reduce potential dangers.
“Work on the farm can often involve incredibly long hours in all weathers, and working alone, so it’s important that farmers take extra precautions especially when tiredness starts to kick in.
“By following health and safety guidelines at work and being more aware of the risks they are surrounded by every day, whether that’s from large machinery, tractors, livestock or chemicals, farmers can help to protect themselves, their families and members of the public.
“The only way for agriculture to reduce the shocking number of people who sustain serious or fatal injuries is for the culture around health and safety in the industry to change.
“What is needed is a complete change in a way of thinking about agricultural work which in practice means replacing often entrenched habits and attitudes with better safety practices.
“Following the proper safety guidance is about more than simply using ‘common sense’ on the farm. It’s about making sure the right procedures are in place to ensure people think before they act to avoid serious or even fatal injuries.”
The warning comes following the release of the HSE report which highlighted that the annual average of farming-related deaths is 21 times as high as the average rate for all industries.
The shocking statistics show that the main cause of death around the farm was from an injury caused by an animal, with eight reported during the 12-month time frame. Other causes of death included: falling from height (four); struck by an object (four); struck by moving vehicle (three); contact with machinery (three); other (five).
Of the 27 fatalities reported, 21 people were farm workers and the other six were members of the public, including the three-year-old child.
Workers aged 45 and over account for 80 per cent of work-related deaths in agriculture over the past five years, with 33 per cent of people killed in 2022/23 aged 65 and over.
Corinne said: “It’s incredibly sad to hear how many families are devastated by tragedies experienced on a farm, and the agriculture industry needs to act immediately to dramatically reduce these worryingly high fatality rates.
“Farming plays such a vital role in the economy and we need to address unsafe working methods to ensure those working in the industry are not at risk of injury through doing their job.”
HHIB, in conjunction with H&H Safety, is extending its farm safety first aid courses delivered by Farm and Forestry First Aid and aimed at agricultural and forestry workers.
Selby Mart, in North Yorkshire, will become a new host of the courses with Yorkshire Agricultural Society providing 80% funding for the session on Monday, November 13.
A course will also be held at Borderway Mart, in Carlisle, on Thursday, November 30.
The half-day courses will cover essential first aid skills such as assessing a casualty, the correct recovery position, how to administer CPR, using an Automated External Defibrillator and learning how to treat crush injuries, amputations, impalements and severe bleeding, led by qualified health care professionals registered with the Health & Care Professions Council.
To find out more about the farming first aid courses or to book a place, contact email@example.com.