Transport, livestock and falls from height – the major causes of fatal injuries on farm
To mark the start of Farm Safety Week the HSE published its annual report on fatal accidents in agriculture in Great Britain on Monday 15 July.
What are the statistics?
In 2018/19 32 workers and 7 members of the public lost their lives in farm work place incidents. Included within the figure for members of the public are two children both under the age of 4 who lost their lives after being run over by farm vehicles.
Agriculture is not the biggest sector in the GB economy and only employs around 1% of the work force. In order to compare fatal injury figures between different sectors in a meaningful way it is better to look at fatal injury rates per 100,000 employed rather than absolute figures. Using this measure the fatal injury rate for agriculture last year was 9.21 per 100,000 employed compared to an all industry average of just 0.45. The big variation in fatal injury rates between agriculture and other industries is not new and is in line with the figures over the last 5 years and more.
Major causes of fatal injury
The major causes of fatal injuries do not change over the years with transport, contact with livestock and falls from height appearing in the top three causes year in and year out. Last year deaths caused by a moving vehicle accounted for 36 % of fatalities whilst the figures for contact with livestock and after a fall from height are 23% and 18% respectively.
What can be done?
Fatal injuries can be prevented by recognising and then managing risk. Other industries have better health and safety records compared to agriculture because they do a better job of identifying and managing risk.
We manage risk successfully in other parts of our lives and we need to do the same at work. Everyone knows that there is a risk of injury if a car crashes. The risk is managed by putting a seat belt on. The risks on farm such as being run by a tractor over can be managed by following the “safe stop” procedure; risks to children can be controlled by restricting access to the work place and by not allowing children under the age of 13 years to drive or ride on any agricultural machine.
The tools are available to help the industry. Help and advice is available from the NFU, the HSE and other organisations but nothing will change unless all people working in agriculture change attitudes and behaviours and make safety part of the normal every day thought process.
The NFU together with partners in the Farm Safety Partnership is supporting Farm Safety Week 2019. This is an industry led event to raise safety awareness and promote good health and safety practices to help make farming safer and farming businesses more successful.
Information and advice on cost effective, common sense ways to improve health and safety on farm is available in the NFU Safety Hub, from the HSE web site and from NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.