Farm injury and fatality figures have gone down in the last 12 months – HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual report on injury and ill health in the agriculture sector for 2019/2020. It shows that the incidence of work-related ill health has declined since the previous year, along with the number of fatalities.

The key statistics are as follows.

Ill health

There were an estimated 13,000 work-related ill health cases, with the rate per 100,000 workers fairly similar to the rate across all industries.

Around half of these cases were musculoskeletal disorders. The rate per 100,000 workers is 2.2% which is statistically significantly higher than the all industry rate of 1.2%.

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety are not recorded by the HSE as major causes of work-related ill health in agriculture.

Non-fatal injuries

There were an estimated 12,000 non-fatal injuries at work.

Slips, trips and falls, injury by an animal, falling from height and injury by lifting or carrying an object are all major causes.

Fatal injuries

There were 20 fatal injuries to workers in 2019/20 compared to a five-year average of 27 per year.

Major causes continue to be being struck by a moving vehicle, falling from height and contact with livestock.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is now urging farmers to prove that this improvement is not just a variation, but the start of a long-term trend that shows a permanent change in farming’s approach to health and safety.

Despite last year’s lower statistics, the fatal injury rate remains far higher at 7.73 per 100,000 workers than the all-industry average of 0.42 per 100,000.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said:

“Although the non-fatal statistics show progress since the previous year, this should not be taken to mean that a permanent change has occurred as there can be annual variations.

We have seen this recently with the fatality figures. In July, the HSE revealed a record low for farm fatalities, yet in the past few months we have heard far too often the devastating news that we have lost another member of the farming community.

“There has been a renewed focus on safety over the past year or so which is great, and we can’t let this drop off. We need to ensure any improvement we make is backed up with long-term, meaningful change.

“The figures on non-fatal injury and ill health are a really good indication of where we are in relation to our overall goal to reduce farm workplace fatalities to zero – we are making progress, but more needs to be done,” he concluded.