Farm Safety Starts With You

by Stephanie Berkeley, Manager, Farm Safety Foundation 

Welcome to the 11th (Yes, the 11th) annual Farm Safety Week and I wish I could introduce this year’s campaign on a positive note but, unfortunately, figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB Report 2022/23 reveal that, with 21 farm workers losing their lives over the past year and 6 members of the public (including a child) our farms continue to have the poorest safety record of any workplace in GB.

Stephanie Berkeley, Manager, Farm Safety Foundation

With agricultural mortality rates remaining stubbornly high compared with other sectors in which fatal accident rates have generally decreased, the industry can’t keep ploughing on – something needs to change. But what?

The release of this year’s HSE report serves as a sombre reminder of why annual campaigns like Farm Safety Week matter. We work every single day to support, educate and improve the attitudes to and behaviours around farming safely but we can not do this alone.

Shoes on a carpet should never tell boots on the ground what to do and we won’t. Our industry knows what it has to do. Every single person living and working in the industry has to step up and take responsibility so we can make our farms safer places to work and to live.

While we are seeing more people calling out poor practices and sharing their experiences there seems to be a broad acceptance that this is just how it is in farming?

As we have seen year after year, farming is one of the few industries in which members of the public and family members (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal injuries – 23 in the past 5 years.

Farming is also an industry where people do not retire at 65 so, while we are seeing an encouraging improvement in the attitudes and behaviours in the next generation of farmers, 33% of people killed in 2022/23 were aged 65 and over. So we’re not seeing the widespread changes in attitude towards safety, and the improvements in behaviour that will start to bring those numbers down.

I’ve always done it that way. I’m in a hurry. It costs too much…

These are not good enough reasons for risk-taking, poor maintenance of equipment or unsafe working.

Farm Safety is an investment not a luxury. Everything is replaceable. You are not. 

stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Farm Safety Starts With You