Comment by Stephanie Berkeley, Manager, Farm Safety Foundation
The results are in and, according to the HSE Fatal Injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in GB Report 2021/22 published today, 25 people including a 9-year old child, lost their lives on our farms over the past year. This may be an improvement on last year’s total of 41 but one life lost is one too many!
As we launch our 10th annual Farm Safety Week, the HSE report shows that, a decade after the first Farm Safety Week campaign, agriculture continues to have the poorest safety record in the UK and Ireland.
Farming has changed so much over the past decade so why hasn’t its safety record?
For an industry that employs 1% of the working population in Great Britain, agriculture accounts for 18% of all workplace fatal injuries. It’s a similar picture in Northern Ireland where farming accounted for 6 of the 18 reportable workplace fatalities in 2021/2022 representing 33% (HSENI) and, in the Republic of Ireland, farming accounts for 4% of the workforce (according to CSO’s Labour Force Survey) but 26% of all workplace fatal incidents.
Agriculture is different from many industries in that it can present hazards to people not actively involved in the industry, such as children and family members living on the farm and visitors, in addition to farm workers. Hazards can also exist for vets, delivery workers and even the emergency medical services personnel as they provide assistance and care to victims of farm incidents.
Despite an encouraging improvement in the figures over the past year, these are sobering statistics.
These are not just statistics…
Behind every fatal notification is a worker, a member of the public and, this year, a child. We can not become immune to the impact that each and every death has on farming families and communities across the UK and Ireland. In the ten years since our first campaign, we have lost a total of 363 people to farm incidents so cannot continue to accept that risk-taking is part and parcel of farming – we have to work harder to make it safer.
This is why a campaign like Farm Safety Week still matters.
When many voices join together to drive a change, this is when it can happen but we need to maintain a firm focus on risk management every day of the year not just during Farm Safety Week.
Thanks to the funding of NFU Mutual, we have devised and delivered training sessions to over 18,000 young farmers in land-based colleges and universities across the UK and through the young farmers clubs network. We know – and our research supports this – that the next generation of farmers are cultivating a better attitude to risk-taking and are starting to drive better safety behaviours in the workplace.
Farming is an industry where people do not retire at 65 but, with the oldest worker killed over the past year being 85 years of age, we also need to look after our older workers so they can continue to support the farm business and carry out tasks that are appropriate for their mobility, agility and health conditions.
The bottom line is, farmers of ALL ages need to challenge and change their attitudes so we can make our farms safer places to work and to live.”
To keep up with Farm Safety Week this week, follow @yellowwelliesUK on our social media channels Instagram / Facebook / Twitter or search using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek