HSE Issues Call to Farmers to Raise Safety Awareness after a Series of Farm Related Fatalities

Published August 19 2021

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HSE, supported by relevant industry partners is asking farmers to review their safe working practices and raise the awareness of safety and health in an effort to better ensure safety and reduce the number of deaths related to the industry, specifically after a recent number of fatalities that have occurred within a very short period of time.

Four fatalities have occurred within the last month, which includes the death of a three-year-old in Wales and a suspected cattle trampling incident involving a member of the general public in Wiltshire. These deaths have occurred just three weeks after Farm Safety Week and as the HSE issued its report on fatal injuries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing in Great Britain 2020/2021, which highlighted a high fatality rate in the industry.

The figures demonstrated that agriculture currently has the worst rate of fatality of all the major industrial sectors with the five most common causes being:

  • Struck by a moving vehicle
  • Killed by an animal
  • Struck by something falling or collapsing
  • Falling from height
  • Contact with moving machinery

It is well understood that managing risk is a vital part of the farming process with tasks and activities needing to be carefully considered and the risk assessment process and provision of safe working practices given due consideration and proactively managed.

However the rise in injury and fatality rates as well as the spate of recent incidents are a cause for concern and a reminder to the safety and farming industries of the severe consequences to be faced when risk managers and just as importantly the workforce take their eye off the ball and lose sight of the need to ensure the safety message is being heard and then heeded.

Sector workers from management to labourers are encouraged to discuss issues and seek out help or advice from the leading farming organisations, the Farm Safety Partnership, or the HSE via its website, where guidance can be found to assist and or support them in their endeavours to work safely when conducting their tasks or activities. Some simple actions that workers can take to reduce risk include:

  • Checking that all power to vehicles / machinery is removed prior to conducting repairs
  • Keeping people out of the way of moving vehicles
  • Keeping non-essential people out of loading / unloading areas when conducting activities
  • Using the right equipment for working at height
  • Keeping (if at all possible) cows with calves out of fields with well used public footpaths

This is therefore the time to:

  • carry out a review of your risk assessments ensuring all site hazards, tasks and activities are covered within the process
  • update / refresh your safe working practices
  • re-issue / refresh training and or provided information to ensure all employees, and as relevant, visitors to your sites and land, are aware of and understand the hazards before them and how to manage them safely
  • replace worn, damaged or missing hazard related signage

If this alert has raised questions or you need to discuss any other health & safety related issue do not hesitate to contact your health & safety consultant or the main office for advice / assistance.