A CAMPAIGN aimed at reducing the number of deaths on farms and crofts in Scotland has been launched, following the loss of almost 80 lives in the UK in the last decade.
The industry has become the most dangerous occupation in the UK, outstripping deaths and injuries occurring in the construction and offshore industries, research shows.
The high number of fatalities involving men, women and four children in the last ten years was revealed at the Black Isle Show in the Highlands as a new project to tackle the issue of safety was unveiled.
Earlier this month, 18-year-old Zach Fox died after falling into a silo at a farm in Denholm, near Hawick, in the Borders.
In Ireland, farming accidents have claimed the lives of two children in the past week, with Liam Lyons, 5, from County Offaly, and Fionn Mulhall, 3, from County Cork, losing their lives in tragic circumstances.
The Farm Safety Scotland Partnership, launched at the biggest agriculture event in the Highlands, involves the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland, insurers NFU Mutual, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Government.
It outlines the four most common dangers – falls, animals, transport and equipment (Fate) – and urges farmers not to leave their own safety, and that of employees and family, to “Fate”.
NFU Scotland vice-president Allan Bowie said: “Tragic incidents in the past few days across the UK and Ireland remind everyone that farms can be dangerous places, so it is important that everyone on a farm takes the necessary steps so that they can stay safe while farming.
“The Farm Safety Partnership intends to change behaviour and attitudes by promoting the steps to reduce the risks of common farm jobs.
“Most people will be able to recall a close-call situation that could so easily have resulted in serious injury or even fatality.
“By adopting some simple steps as part of everyday working practices, we can reduce the number of accidents and deaths on Scotland’s farms.”
Statistics from the HSE show that, of 76 people killed in the last decade, nine died in incidents involving livestock.
A further 26 were killed by vehicles overturning or being struck by a moving vehicle. Another 13 died in falls, while six have been killed when they came into contact with working machinery or equipment.
Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Scotland manager, said that, as the insurer of the majority of Scottish farms, they were aware of the impact deaths and serious injuries had on families.
He added: “Whilst other industries – including construction – have seen accidents fall sharply in recent years, the number of people killed and injured on our farms has remained high and farming is now the most dangerous occupation in Great Britain.”
Rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead attended the launch and said: “Every single tragedy is one too many and it is therefore essential that everyone working in the industry understands the risks and takes every available precaution to stay as safe as possible.”
In March, Jim Sharp, 66, who farmed near Lauder in the Borders, died while operating a grain auger. He was one of eight deaths in last year.
Others included a 37-year-old self-employed agricultural mechanic who was killed when both a tractor and plough overturned into a ravine, and a 39-year-old self-employed farmer who was dragged into a combine harvester.
The most high-profile deaths in recent years happened in 2012, when Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, 22, his father Noel, 58, and brother Graham, 30, died after they were overcome by fumes on their family farm in Hillsborough, County Down.