UK's Farm Safety Week begins

New report shows that fatal injuries on-farm have decreased by 37.5 percent this year, but there's still a way to go.
calendar icon 20 July 2020
clock icon 4 minute read

For those of us who have been following every possible safety measure to avoid the invisible danger of COVID19 - washing our hands until our skin starts to crack, avoiding social contact with family and friends, risk assessing and redirecting our route as soon we see someone approaching – the thought that someone would see a danger on the horizon and do nothing to avoid it is hard to fathom.

But, according to the UK’s leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation, this is exactly what farmers and farm workers have been doing for years and this is why agriculture continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. Today, however, there are signs that poor attitudes to safety, risk-taking behaviours and the number of farmers and farm workers losing their lives on the UK’s farms may finally be improving with the release of  the Health and Safety Executive Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing for Great Britain 2019/2020 which reports that 20 agriculture workers lost their lives over the past year, a decrease of 37.5 percent on the previous year’s figure of 32.

To mark the start of the annual Farm Safety Week campaign, HSE have shared their in depth report into fatal injuries in the sector and revealed that over the past year, a total of 21 people in England, Scotland and Wales were killed in agriculture – 20 agriculture workers and 1 member of the public – a four year old child.. The biggest cause of these fatalities was farm transport.

Workers over the age of 55 were disproportionately at risk of death following an incident. When comparing older and younger farm worker age groups, the five-year fatal injury rate is nearly six times higher for over 65s compared to the 16-24 age group. Even with the encouraging news that numbers are dropping this year, agriculture still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, a shocking 18 times higher than the all-industry rate, accounting for around 20 percent of worker fatalities.

Now in its eighth year, Farm Safety Week brings together five countries over five days with ONE clear goal – to remind farmers and farm workers to take safety seriously so we can reduce the number of life-changing and life-ending accidents on our farms.

Throughout this year’s campaign, the Farm Safety Foundation, supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland, will demonstrate how the recent global pandemic has impacted the industry and, with the tragic reality that three children lost their lives on British and Irish farms over the past month, the issue of keeping children safe on farms has never been more important.

In addition, following recent news reports of farmers texting and TikToking while behind the wheel, there will be a focus on distracted driving and rural road safety. However, given the encouraging figures in this year's HSE annual report, there will also be a look at some of the exciting innovations in technology helping us all to farm safer.

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