Farming’s poor safety record ‘needs to change’ says NFU

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Farm safety campaigners have vowed to halve farm deaths after agriculture topped HSE’s tables again for having the highest fatalities on record in both rate and number.

The work-related fatal injuries statistics for 2017/18 showed that 29 workers were killed in agriculture, the second highest number after construction (38).

The rate of injury (deaths per 100,000 workers) was also 18 times higher in farming than the industries average and higher than waste and recycling, which was 16 times greater.

The National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales (NFU) vice president and chair of the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) Stuart Roberts said it was ‘disappointing to see farming hold the poorest safety record again’: “I am fully aware of how difficult it can be to change culture and habits that have lasted a lifetime on farms but for our own wellbeing, this needs to change,” he said.

He said awareness-raising events, like Farm Safety Week, held last week from 16 to 20 July, showed how the industry can work together to help lower the risks on farms and to share good practice.

29 workers were killed in agriculture in 2017/18 according to HSE, the second highest number after construction (38). Photograph: iStock

The FSP has set a target of halving farm deaths, from a base of 29, by 2023. “We are working hard to achieve this. Our ultimate goal is an industry with no fatalities,” he said.

The 29 fatalities on farms are on a par with agriculture’s fatalities average for the past five years, in which the highest number of deaths was 31 and the lowest 29.

Unite commented that HSE has prosecuted just one agricultural employer for breaking safety laws in the past five years.

 “Farmers who are prepared to break safety laws are highly unlikely to mend their ways, as they know they are unlikely ever to be inspected and even if they are the chances of being prosecuted are highly remote,” Unite acting national officer for agriculture Joe Clarke said.


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