The HSE has published its annual report on injury and ill health in the agriculture sector for 2019/2020. It shows that the incidence of work-related ill health has declined since the previous year, along with the number of fatalities.
The key statistics
- There were an estimated 13,000 work-related ill health cases, with the rate per 100,000 workers fairly similar to the rate across all industries.
- Around half of these cases were musculoskeletal disorders. The rate per 100,000 workers is 2.2% which is statistically significantly higher than the all industry rate of 1.2%.
- Work-related stress, depression or anxiety are not recorded by the HSE as major causes of work-related ill health in agriculture.
- There were an estimated 12,000 non-fatal injuries at work.
- Slips, trips and falls, injury by an animal, falling from height and injury by lifting or carrying an object are all major causes.
- There were 20 fatal injuries to workers in 2019/20 compared to a five-year average of 27 per year.
- Major causes continue to be being struck by a moving vehicle, falling from height and contact with livestock.
What is the NFU's position?
The NFU is now urging farmers to prove that this improvement is not just a variation, but the start of a long-term trend that shows a permanent change in farming’s approach to health and safety.
Despite last year’s lower statistics, the fatal injury rate remains far higher at 7.73 per 100,000 workers than the all-industry average of 0.42 per 100,000.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said:
“Although the non-fatal statistics show progress since the previous year, this should not be taken to mean that a permanent change has occurred as there can be annual variations.
“We have seen this recently with the fatality figures. In July the HSE revealed a record low for farm fatalities, yet in the past few months we have heard far too often the devastating news that we have lost another member of the farming community.
“There has been a renewed focus on safety over the past year or so which is great, and we can’t let this drop off. We need to ensure any improvement we make is backed up with long-term, meaningful change.
“The figures on non-fatal injury and ill health are a really good indication of where we are in relation to our overall goal to reduce farm workplace fatalities to zero – we are making progress, but more needs to be done.”
What is the situation across other industries?
Another report into injury and ill health across all industries shows that Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world and that deaths as a result of workplace activities were the lowest on record last year, with 111 fatal incidents recorded.
Figures show that 693,000 workers suffered a non-fatal injury in the workplace in 2019/2020 and that 1.6 million workers suffered from work-related ill health. More than half of the working days lost because of ill health in 2019/2020 were because of mental ill health.
The HSE estimates that the economic cost to Great Britain totalled £16.2 billion with a total of 38.8 million working days lost because of ill health or injury.
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