New figures show continued focus on farm safety is needed

Disappointing rises in farm fatality levels have led to renewed calls for improvements in on-farm safety measures.

Worker deaths from agriculture in Great Britain increased from 27 in 2016-17 to 29 last year.

Similarly, the fatality rate per 100,000 farm workers also rose with the figure reaching 8.44 – above the five-year average of 8.2.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, farming remains the sector with the poorest safety record.

Shifting perspectives

While agriculture’s safety record has not significantly changed for better or worse compared to the previous year, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice president and chairman of the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) Stuart Roberts believes the industry is starting to see a change in attitude amongst farmers.

Mr Roberts said: “I really believe we are starting to see a shift in perspective amongst farmers towards health, safety and wellbeing, which is why it is disappointing to see farming hold the poorest safety record again.

“We are seeing the industry come together and shout about the importance of health and safety.

“Even over the past two weeks, more than 200 farmers have attended NFU and FSP health and safety events and numerous county shows have prioritised this issue.

“This is just another example of how farmers are sharing good practice and talking to each other about how to reduce risk on-farm.

“I am proud to see how the conversation has changed around this subject in recent months and years, but it is vital that words are put into action.

I am fully aware of how difficult it can be to change culture and habits that have lasted a lifetime on-farm but for our own wellbeing, this needs to change.

“The Farm Safety Partnership has set a target of halving farm deaths, from a base of 29, by 2023 and we are working hard to achieve this. Our ultimate goal is an industry with no fatalities.”

Farm Safety Week begins on the 16 July and the NFU will once again be working in partnership with many other organisations in highlighting best farm safety practice together with partners in the FSP.