HSE issues safety call to farmers after a series of farm fatalities

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging farmers to make safety a priority to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in the industry.

The HSE has been notified of four fatalities on farms in just over a fortnight, including the death of a three-year-old boy and a suspected cattle-trampling involving a member of the public.

The incidents come just three weeks after Farm Safety Week, when HSE issued its Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain 2020/21 report highlighting the high fatality rate in the industry.

The figures showed that agriculture has the worst rate of fatal injuries of all the major industrial sectors, with the annual average rate over the last five years around 20 times as high as the all-industry rate.

The five most common causes of fatal injuries over the last five years remain – being struck by moving vehicles; killed by an animal; struck by something falling or collapsing; falling from height and contact with moving machinery.

Risk management

Risk management is a vital part of all work on farms, every job needs to be thought through and the correct safety measures put in place.

Usually there are simple actions workers can take to reduce risk, including making sure to switch off the power to vehicles or machinery before attempting to carry out repairs; keeping people away from moving vehicles; keeping people out of the way when loading or unloading materials; using the right equipment for working at height; and ensuring where possible that cows with calves are not in fields with well used public footpaths.

The safety call has been supported by the Farm Safety Partnerships who have highlighted the responsibility of farmers to make safety their number one priority.

Workers within the sector are encouraged to seek help and advice from any of the Farm Safety Partnerships or leading farming organisations if they require guidance and support for specific tasks or activities.