Safety campaigners have welcomed a big drop in the number of people killed while working on farms – but warned that any fatality is one too many.
Some 25 people died in agriculture during the year ending 31 March, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive. The number compares to 41 fatalities the previous year.
It is the second lowest number of deaths in the last five years. In addition to 22 people killed while working on farms, three fatalities involved children. The youngest was a nine-year-old child.
The figures were published to coincide with the start of Farm Safety Week (18-22 July). Organisers said they wanted to encourage everyone working in the industry to prioritise their physical and mental wellbeing every day.
Awareness of farm safety is at an all-time high with 66% of UK farmers aware of Farm Safety Week, according to an NFU Mutual survey. But campaigners said awareness may be one thing but the fatality rate remains stubbornly high.
Farm Safety Foundation manager Stephanie Berkeley said: “Despite an encouraging improvement in the HSE figures over the past year, these are very sobering statistics. Behind every fatal notification is a worker, a visitor or a child.
“We cannot become immune to the impact that each and every death has on farming families and communities . We cannot continue to accept that risk-taking is part and parcel of farming – we have to work harder to make it safer.”
The five most common causes of death remain the same: being struck by a moving vehicle, being struck by an object, falling from height, contact with machinery, and being killed by livestock.
Tina Morgan, who chairs the rural industries group at theInstitution of Occupational Safety and Health, said: “Farm Safety Week 2022 is an important week for everyone involved in agriculture, health, safety and welfare.
“This year is the 10th anniversary and yet
we are still talking about the same type of accident as we were 10 years ago, but we must never give up sharing our knowledge, resources and expertise to help those who want to make the change. “