Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the UK, with fatal injury rates far outstripping all other occupations, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual figures for work-related fatalities.
Workers in farming are 18 times more likely to die at work than the overall industry rate. The HSE reported that 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded in 2017/18.
The NFU, together with other agricultural organisations, said it is continuing to work with farmers to focus on improving their health and safety on farm and making changes for the better,
NFU vice president and chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) Stuart Roberts believes the industry is starting to see a change in attitude amongst farmers.
Mr Roberts said: “I really believe we are starting to see a shift in perspective among farmers towards health, safety and wellbeing, which is why it is disappointing to see farming hold the poorest safety record again.”
“This is just another example of how farmers are sharing good practice and talking to each other about how to reduce risk on farm. I am proud to see how the conversation has changed around this subject in recent months and years but it is vital that words are put into action. I am fully aware of how difficult it can be to change culture and habits that have lasted a lifetime on farm but for our own wellbeing, this needs to change.”
Mr Roberts said the Farm Safety Partnership has set a target of halving farm deaths, from a base of 29, by 2023 and it is working hard to achieve this.
“The ultimate goal is an industry with no fatalities,” he said. “Farm Safety Week begins on July 16 and the NFU will once again be working in partnership with many other organisations in highlighting best farm safety practice together with partners in the FSP.”
HSE chair Martin Temple said that despite the fact that Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world, the increase in the number of workers fatally injured is clearly a source of concern.
“The figures serve as a reminder of why health and safety is so important and that we must not become complacent as we continue on our mission to prevent all forms of injury, death and ill health at work,” he added.