Farming: Poor farm safety is still a major issue for the industry

Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation managerStephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager
Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager
Ten years on from the first Farm Safety Week campaign, the charity behind the initiative has made a plea for those living and working in the industry to do more to improve the poor safety record.

While the campaign runs over the course of this week the organisers stressed that safety should be to the forefront of everyone working on farms each and every day of the year – including the busy times when no day seemed long enough to get all the work done.

And while statistics released yesterday by the Health and Safety Executive showed a marked down-turn in the number of deaths caused by accidents on farms over the past twelve months, the industry still finds itself in the unenviable position of topping the leader board for the fatal accident rate.

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According to the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind the annual campaign, while the fall to 25 deaths over the past twelve months was an encouraging improvement on the previous figure of 41 – and an improvement on the ten-year average of 36 - it remained critically important to continue driving safety messages to avoid any rebound in the rate.

Agriculture is different from many industries in that it can present hazards to people not actively involved in the industry, such as children and family members living on the farm and visitors, in addition to farmers and farm workers. Hazards can also exist for vets, delivery workers and even the emergency medical services personnel, as they provide assistance and care to victims of farm incidents.,” said Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager.

Commenting on the fatal accident statistics she said:

“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.”

Congratulating the organisation on its work, Sue Thompson, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive, added: “However, there are farming families left devastated every year when their loved ones are badly injured or killed while doing their jobs. We are starting to see safety improvements in some areas, but the pace of change is slow, and the rates of workplace injury and ill health in agriculture remain the highest of any major sector."

“Awareness of the hazards and risk have never been higher, and Farm Safety Week has played its part in this" she continued

“But it’s regrettable that we’re not yet seeing the widespread changes in attitude towards safety, and the improvements in behaviour that will reduce the numbers of people hurt or made ill."

“Everyone in agriculture has a role to play in making the changes we all want to see. Together, we can make farming safer.”

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