Fatality figures a 'sombre reminder' as Shropshire farmers urged not to be complacent

A risk management specialist is urging Shropshire's farmers not to relax safety standards after official figures revealed a slight drop in the number of agricultural work-related fatal injuries in the UK.

Farmers are being urged not to be complacent
Farmers are being urged not to be complacent

Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed 21 people, including one in the West Midlands, were killed in the agriculture sector in 2022/23 – two fewer than last year.

And while Alex Cormack, of Lycetts Risk Management Services, said the slight drop in the number of fatalities was 'encouraging', he warned: "I would urge those who work in the industry to remain vigilant, and to avoid becoming complacent.

“Agriculture is a dangerous industry to work in, coming second only to construction in the number of annual fatalities.”

A third of all fatal injuries in agriculture were caused by people coming into contact with cattle.

This was followed by being struck by an object or falling from height, contact with machinery, a stationary or fixed object, contact with a moving vehicle and being trapped by something collapsing.

Mr Cormack added: “Over the last five years, 64 per cent of all fatalities in the sector involved the self-employed.

"This suggests that although employers may be conscientious about health and safety measures and training for their staff, they are not giving their own personal safety enough attention."

Alex Cormack

“The ‘cost-of-business’ crisis is putting a lot of pressure on the agricultural industry, and there could be a danger that in order to make savings, or to save time, some people may be tempted to take risks. This could leave their families devastated, and their businesses ruined.

“Some fatalities can be attributed to freak accidents, but others could be avoided by adopting a more rigorous approach to safety. Risk assessments should be thorough, all appropriate training should be undertaken, and safety policies should be implemented.”

The Farm Safety Foundation (Yellow Wellies), the charity behind the annual Farm Safety Week campaign, said that, despite the improvements in attitudes and behaviours in the industry, many deaths and injuries could be prevented.

Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation manager, added: “The release of this year’s HSE figures serves as a sombre reminder of why Farm Safety Week matters and why we must all do more to address the poor safety record in the industry and make our farms safer places to work and to live.

"This is not just our problem – it is a worldwide problem.

"In Great Britain, for a sector that employs 472,000 people which is only 1 per cent of the working population, the fatality rate in agriculture accounts for a shocking 18 per cent of all deaths in the workplace and an additional 23,000 farm workers suffer long term ill-health or serious injury in the industry every year.”

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