Fatal Injuries In Agriculture

1% of the UK workforce is working in some form of agriculture, with agriculture being responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents at work (Lowther, 2019), this figure has unfortunately risen, with 2020-2021 farm deaths at 34, which is significantly higher than the five-year average of 28 (Farm deaths rise by over 60 per cent, new HSE figures show – Farmers Guide, 2022). Yes, the agricultural industry is more dangerous than an office job sat a desk, but there are signs in where the fatal injuries have occurred on things that could have led to a different outcome:

  • Fatal accidents are more common with older workers, unfortunately the attitude ‘it won’t happen to me’ or ‘I’ve done it longer than you were born’(the PG version) which does its rounds in the market when you ask some of the older farmers if they need a hand, isn’t the right to attitude.
  • Solo agricultural workers are more likely to have fatal accidents, although some jobs are simply made for one person on the farm, having two people on site can reduce the risk of a fatal accident.
  • Heavy machinery or livestock, with a similar attitude to the first point ‘it won’t happen to me’ doesn’t work with something as unpredictable as livestock.

Since the 2001 Summit, construction companies have significantly reduced fatalities in their industry by adopting demanding targets and actions plans, some of these include:

  • Follow safety signs and procedures.
  • Report defects and near misses.
  • If in doubt, ask.
  • When reversing on site in any vehicle the driver must have a banksman.

The first three general points seem like common sense but there are plenty of times on farms and markets where gates are left open resulting in livestock being where they shouldn’t, as well as near misses seen as almost comical instead of thought about why this has happened.

Again, going back to the saying ‘It won’t ever happen to me’ seems to ring true for every near miss that happens, but every person in agriculture knows someone who has ended up where they shouldn’t have been, don’t let it be you.

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