FSP sounds alarm over HSE’s decision to stop inspections

01 May 2024

NFU Deputy President David Exwood standing with his arms crossed in front of a combine harvester.

The Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) has raised serious concerns over the recent decision by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to halt farm safety inspections, fearing the decision will pose significant risks to the health and safety of agricultural workers in the farming sector.

Speaking for the first time as Farm Safety Partnership Chair, NFU Deputy President David Exwood said: “We cannot afford to compromise on the safety of our farmers, farm workers, or those living on or visiting farms. The decision to halt inspections is deeply troubling and we urge the government and HSE to reconsider and continue to work collaboratively with farmers to help ensure they are compliant. We simply must prioritise the wellbeing of the nation’s farmers and growers.

“The lack of public awareness surrounding this decision raises serious questions about their prioritisation of safety within the farming sector. While the HSE assures us that investigative inspections will continue in response to serious incidents, the lack of all regular inspections, training and events leaves a notable gap in proactive and preventative safety measures that could prevent accidents and save lives.

“Agriculture has one of the highest rates of fatalities and serious injuries in any workplace and to help bring this number down, as a sector we need to work on changing the culture of farm safety. This decision by HSE completely goes against that goal.

“We are calling on Defra and the Department for Work and Pensions to recognise the critical safety implications of this decision, urgently review the potential impacts and establish a clear plan to prioritise the safety of those in the sector.

“The FSP is committed to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of agricultural workers. We will be engaging in conversations with the government and the wider industry to support the development and implementation of policies and practices that safeguard the livelihoods of those working in agriculture.”

More information:

From 26 March 2024, the NFU took on the responsibility of chairing the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP).

The FSP is a collaboration of organisations with a responsibility to show industry leadership by promoting safe systems of work within all sectors of agriculture. These organisations represent a broad spectrum of agricultural interests, including the large farming membership organisations, training providers, farming press, auctioneers, machinery dealers, and representatives from allied industries. Find out more about the Farm Safety Partnership.

The HSE is switching to a focus on occupational health issues rather than preventative general health and safety inspections. It will continue to provide investigative inspections in response to serious incidents such as on-farm accidents or deaths.