Categories: Safety

HSE calls for an improvement of farm safety after a series of serious incidents


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Britain’s workplace regulator says more must be done to improve farm safety after being notified of four fatalities on farms in just over a fortnight.

Fatal incidents the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become aware of include the death of a three-year-old boy in Wales and a suspected cattle-trampling in Chippenham earlier this week.

There has also been a report of a separate incident involving members of the public being attacked by cattle.

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, around 20 times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.

HSE’s acting head of agriculture Adrian Hodkinson said: “While we must respect the ongoing investigations following these tragic incidents, most injuries or deaths that we’ve historically seen on farms have been both predictable and preventable.

“Despite the efforts of the Farm Safety Partnership in particular, an industry-wide change in attitude is needed for farmers to take action to protect themselves and others to the well-known risks they face.

“At this time of year, we have additional factors such as the school holidays and higher numbers of members of the public enjoying the summer weather and walking along public footpaths through fields with cattle.

“But we ask that farmers, farm workers and farming contractors take the right steps to stop these incidents. At this time of year, it’s important to manage risk from livestock and, with harvest well underway, to work safely with farm machinery.

He added: “The fatality rate within the sector is high, but there are simple measures 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; and ensuring dairy bulls, and cows with calves are not in fields with public footpaths.

“We are urging people who work on farms to make safety a priority and help us to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in the industry.”

Guidance in managing livestockreducing the risks to children and the public, and maintaining farm vehicles and machinery is available on the HSE website.

Workers within the sector are also 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.

Fatal incidents:
• Tuesday 27 July 2021: An investigation, led by Police Scotland with support from HSE, is ongoing after a man died in an apparent fall from height at a farm in Angus, Scotland.
• Tuesday 3 August 2021: An investigation, led by Dyfed Powys Police with support from HSE, is ongoing after a three-year-old boy died following a collision with a vehicle at a farm in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.

• Monday 9 August 2021: An investigation, led by Hampshire Police with support from HSE, is ongoing after a man died in a crushing incident involving a ramp falling from a truck at a farm in Hampshire.
• Tuesday 10 August 2021: An investigation, led by Avon and Somerset Police with support from HSE, is ongoing after a man was found with fatal injuries and surrounded by cattle at a field in Chippenham.

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