Farm Fatality Figures Still “Quite Horrifying”

UK and Ireland – Death counts on UK and Irish farms are proving stubborn despite a sea change in industry mentality.
calendar icon 9 July 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

This is according to health and safety leaders at the Livestock Event yesterday who said fatalities were up last year, but added that that farmer opinions to health and safety were improving.

English figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from 2014/15 show there were 33 fatal injuries - an increase on the 2013/14 death toll of 27.

Keith Morrison, chief executive of Northern Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive, said farmers now see the lives and accidents that can be saved rather than seeing health and safety as “fines and restrictions”.

In a discussion of farm safety initiatives and progress as part of Farm Safety Week (6-10 July), he said: “When we started we were despised by farmers, now there is a proactive attitude to saving lives - its not about fines and restrictions.

“We now have an industry that welcomes these guys onto farms.”

John Kennedy from the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland described a “disastrous 2014” for Irish farmers and revealed that 18 Irish farmers die per 100,000.

Looking to the future, Mr Kennedy said: “This is a quite horrifying figure but sometimes it takes disaster to bring about rays of sunshine.”

Great British fatality figures come in below Ireland at 10 per 100,000.

Rick Brunt, head of Agriculture at the UK Health and Safety Executive, said this was twenty times higher than the oil industry average.

His message was that government and industry partnerships across the UK were “encouraging to see” but that the only people who can make the difference were farmers themselves.

He said: “We want everything to be there in place to change the terrible record the industry has.”

Farm Safety Week is an initiative launched to cut the toll of accidents in farming. Supported by the Farm Safety Foundation and government bodies across the UK and Ireland, the annual event is in its third year.

National Farmers Union deputy president, Minette Batters, stressed that tools and equipment should not be overlooked on farms.

She said: “Livestock handling systems, rails and places where you still have gaps should be assessed. Unless you have the right tools you will still have deaths.”

Michael Priestley

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