29 workers killed on farms this year

To mark the start of Farm Safety Week (16-20 July) HSE has announced its latest report Great Britain 2017/2018 showing the annual fatal injuries in agriculture
calendar icon 18 July 2018
clock icon 6 minute read

Over the past year 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded in the report and the sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count (20%). Farming has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times higher as the all industry rate.

The new HSE stats for 2017/2018 reveal that nearly half the workers killed (14 of 29) were over 65 years of age (48%).

  • Three quarters of the total number of agricultural workers who were killed this year were over the age of 60.
  • Livestock reported as the main cause of fatal accidents.
  • Four members of the public were killed in 2017/18, 2 of which were children under the age of 16.
  • Farm Safety Week aims to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK & Ireland.

The report also highlights that livestock was the main cause of fatal accidents among farm workers, accounting for almost a quarter (24%) of all fatalities. Other causes included being struck by farm vehicles, such as tractors or trailers (18%), trapped by something collapsing (15%) and being struck by objects such as bales and tree branches (12%). Most of the agricultural fatalities occurred in Yorkshire and the Humber (21%), followed by Wales (18%) and Scotland and the South West which each accounted for 15% of fatalities.

Farm Safety Week is an initiative led by the Farm Safety Foundation and supported by Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland.

Offering his support for the campaign, Farming Minister George Eustice said:“The farming industry is essential to our national economy – employing more than 340,000 people – and plays a vital role in producing the food that we all know and love. Initiatives, such as Farm Safety Week, are important in raising awareness of good workplace practice, and I encourage farmers across the UK to read this week’s case studies, articles and blogs to help understand how they can stay safe at work.”

"I encourage farmers across the UK to read this week's case studies, articles and blogs to help understand how they can stay safe at work."

George Eustice, Farming Minister

From the HSE figures, it has been reported that four members of the public were killed in 2017/18, 2 of which were children under the age of 16. Therefore, this year Farm Safety Week will also focus on the issue of child safety on farms. Accidents on farms can be life changing, both for those involved and their family. It is even more devastating when it involves a child, which is why Farm Safety Foundation is encouraging farmers to be extra vigilant and take every precaution to make their farms safe for children.

Former JLS star turned farmer JB Gill who now runs his own farm rearing pigs, turkeys and chickens near Kent, has lent his support to this years’ charity campaign. JB said: “Farms can be wonderful places for children to grow up but the sad fact is that farms are the only workplace where children continue to be involved in fatal accidents, which is heart-breaking for the farm owners and the families involved, as well as a horrific tragedy for their communities. Being part of the farming community and having a young child myself, I want to help highlight the importance of child safety on farms. The Farm Safety Foundation is urging farming families to talk about farm safety and make it a priority. Please put in place simple and practical measures to make sure your children are safe at all times.”

After five years of delivering Farm Safety Week, bringing together five countries over five days with ONE clear goal – to inspire behavioural change - this year’s campaign, led by award-winning charity the Farm Safety Foundation, wants to highlight and, share good practice and demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like.

It is a worrying fact that the same accidents are still happening and claiming the lives and limbs of too many of our nation’s farm workers, however, things are changing. Initiatives and training of the next generation of farmers means that tomorrow’s farmers are more aware, more informed and more capable of making educated decisions but awareness is one thing, the time has come for action!

"...awareness is one thing, the time has come for action!"

Stephanie Berkeley from the Farm Safety Foundation said: “Many of those injured or killed on our farms have been doing this all their lives. Incredibly, 21 of the 29 workers killed this year were over the age of 60 - that is three quarters of the total number!

"Unlike other occupations, farmers don’t tend to retire at 65 and often work well into their 80s. Factors such as health, agility and stubbornness combine with risk-taking, fatigue and improperly maintained machinery to create this ‘risk’ nightmare.

"Over the past five years we have asked farmers to stop and think. We have delivered successful awareness campaigns such as 'Mind Your Head' and 'Who Would Fill Your Boots?'. We can continue to make powerful and emotive films and offer advice and guidance but we can’t do one thing. We can’t make farmers change their attitude. Only they can make that change. They have to want to change. They have to decide to change. They have to play their part. They have to take responsibility.”

For this years’ Farm Safety Week campaign, the charity has produced an engaging film to highlight the importance of farm safety: It’s Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.

For more information on Farm Safety Week visit; www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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