The Farm Safety Foundation has revealed that 39 people have lost their lives on farms this year, despite awareness of farm safety being at an all-time high.
According to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), of those killed, 32 were agricultural workers and seven were members of the public, including two children.
This week’s Farm Safety Week, an initiative led by the Farm Safety Foundation and supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the Health & Safety Authority, Ireland, aims to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give farming the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK & Ireland
In the wake of two tragic farm incidents last week involving children, the Farm Safety Foundation is urging the whole farming community to make a real change this Farm Safety Week.
Despite increased awareness of the issue (68% of farmers have awareness of Farm Safety Week), farming still has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate, accounting for more than 22% of all workplace fatalities.
Now in its seventh year, Farm Safety Week brings together five countries over five days with one clear goal – to inspire farmers to look after their physical and mental wellbeing and reduce the number of life-changing and life-ending accidents on our farms.
In a year when it has been revealed that, despite there being seven times more workers employed in the construction industry than agriculture, forestry and fishing, you are actually seven times more likely to be killed on a farm than on a construction site.
Awareness of farm safety is at an all-time high with 67% of all farmers aware of Farm Safety Week but, in the past year, 32 farm workers lost their lives in the workplace so awareness may be one thing – the time has now come for action.
This year’s campaign brings the focus back to farmers, farm workers and those living and working in rural communities and will deliver real stories, inspiration and messages directly to them to drive this change.
Andrew Turner, head of agriculture at the Health & Safety Executive, said: “Agriculture is a critical part of our economy, but every year we have to report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. This is made even more tragic by the fact that the deaths and injuries are avoidable. The precautions to prevent people being killed and maimed on farms are well known and can be easily applied.”
Throughout this year’s campaign, the Farm Safety Foundation will demonstrate how safety innovations and improved inspection and maintenance can build business resilience, highlighting organisations helping build personal resilience and introduce some incredible farmers that have been influenced by circumstances, stories or personal experiences to make a real change.
Stephanie Berkeley, who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Two children lost their lives last week in incidents involving farm vehicles so isn’t it time to sit up, take note and take action?
“Farming, as an industry, is vital to the UK economy – it is the bedrock of our food and drink industry. On a farm, as with any business, the number one resource is the people so why do farmers still give more attention to their livestock, crops and machinery than to themselves and their own wellbeing?”
For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek