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Farm Safety Week aims to tackle the bitter harvest of farmyard fatalities and injuries

Stephanie Berkeley of the FSF

FARMING remains one of the country's most dangerous occupations, an issue Farm Safety Week aims to tackle. Health and Safety Executive figures show that 20 farm workers were killed on farms over the past year – a 37.5pc decrease on the previous years figure of 32. Of those killed, 20 were agricultural workers and one was a member of the public – a four year old child. The UK's leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation, says: "For those of us who have been following every possible safety measure to avoid the invisible danger of Covid-19 - 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 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." To mark the start of the annual Farm Safety Week campaign, HSE have shared their in-depth report into fatal injuries in the sector. The biggest cause of these fatalities was farm transport. Workers over the age of 55 were disproportionately at risk of death following an incident. Say FSF: "Even with the numbers overall dropping this year which is encouraging news, 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 20pc of worker fatalities." Now in its eighth year, Farm Safety Week brings together five countries over five days with one 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. “Agriculture is a vitally important part of our economy.” explains Adrian Hodkinson, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive. “But every year we report that agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK. “It is a very sad fact that most of the deaths and life-changing injuries are completely avoidable and the causes well known. The precautions to prevent people being killed and/or really seriously injured on farms are usually straightforward. It is not acceptable that Agriculture continues to fail to manage risk in the workplace. We need everyone to play their part to change their own behaviours and do things the right way (rather than the way it's always been done) and challenge poor practices whenever they are seen. “On a more positive note,” Adrian added: “It's fantastic to see more use of working platforms, more hi-vis clothing, that ATV users are getting trained and wearing helmets, and better cattle handling facilities are being installed.” In addition, following recent news reports of farmers texting and using phone apps while behind the wheel, there will be a focus on distracted driving and rural road safety. According to Stephanie Berkeley who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity behind this campaign: “This has been a particularly challenging 2020 for all of us however, over the past few months, farmers have been recognised as key workers, playing an essential role in producing food for the country. "There are no borders when it comes to safety and this year's Farm Safety Week will see partners in five countries – Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland showing a united front in calling for the industry to take safety seriously each and every day, not just during Farm Safety Week. “Like any farmer scanning his fields for green shoots, we are doing the same across the industry and we're optimistic that a change is finally happening. “Farmers are starting to make decisions that are in their broad self-interest and in the interest of staying safe and staying alive. Young farmers are coming into the industry with improved attitudes to working safely. More farmers are being open about looking after their physical and mental wellbeing and using technology, learning business skills and taking innovative steps to make their farm businesses safe, resilient and sustainable. “Farm Safety Week may be one week in the year but the Farm Safety Foundation works all year round to educate, engage and communicate strong and relatable farm safety messages and deliver this change and we can not do this alone. We are very privileged to have this opportunity to work closely with the farm safety partnerships, health and safety organisations and the farming community to drive safety forward.” For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwelliesUK on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek

<< back Published: 20 Jul 2020, 10:55

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